September 24, 2012

Yom Kippur: Atonement for Some?

The holiest day on the Jewish calendar is almost here. Yom Kippur, known as Day of Judgment or Day of Atonement is a holiday known for not eating as it is fast day. The preparations the day before are holiday-like and indeed that is the way it is considered by the kosher food industry,  as does the Talmud that credits Jews who eat on the eve of Yom Kippur as if they fasted for two days. But I wonder if there are some people involved in kosher that should seriously consider atonement. 

Here’s why: A significant segment of the kosher market very much wants the food they eat to be kosher, in accordance with the highest standards. In short, they want their product to live up to its label or the ad. So when a company flippantly ignores the need to classify a product as dairy when it in fact contains dairy ingredients , it is troubling. When a company doesn’t immediately change packaging when it has changed an ingredient or a certification, it is troubling. When a company does not bother to check whether a new product is kosher even as their other products are, it is troubling. When a company mislabels a product as parve and it actually includes dairy, it is troubling.

There is no room in kosher to try to beat the system. So trying to get around the requirements of a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) is troubling. Bringing in a product into an establishment that has not been cleared by the certifier irrespective of what the label says is troubling. Repackaging products, even if kosher, without supervision or clearance by a certifier is troubling. For those who violate the trust of the kosher consumer with impunity, Yom Kippur is a good time to atone and to open a new page in truthfulness and honesty.

Image of Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, by Maurycy Gottlieb (1878)