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I don’t hold of that hechsher

Amys Kitchen makes some amazing and healthy products, their canned chili, refried beans and soups are all amazing as well as their microwavable pizzas, Asian and Mexican meals are all very tasty and mostly vegan and organic. The problem is in the hechsher, no one seems to know of it and everyone seems to think one way or the other, even if they have never seen the hechsher.

The hechsher is the Torchlight-K and it is on the back of most of their products, small town Rabbis who are usually more lenient on hechsherim, mostly because it isnt part of their business, mostly agree that it is fine.

I have asked others and even though they want to say I dont know, they always answer I wouldnt eat it or I dont trust it when they havent heard of something. Why dont rabbis encourage people to do research themselves?Why don’t rabbis themselves do the research rather then just make up some answer?

My theory is that since Amys products are really healthy for you, the rabbis dont want people to all eat healthy since it makes people better looking and hence it tempts them to dress untznius.

Here is how a conversation about hechsherim goes:

I dont hold of that hechsher.

Why?

I heard its not good.

Who told you that?

I cant remember, I just heard the guy isnt trustworthy.

Sometimes they actually did call up the Star-K or the OU, which may not be trustworthy, because since they may not actually know anything about the hechsher, and many people from organizations cannot actually tell you if something isnt good, so they say not recommended which is annoying as hell.

Then of course you have the conversations about how something isnt kosher, but the person who bought it saw it at someones house during a shalom zachor, so goes the saga of flavored beers and arguments about scotch aged in sherry casks which I heard is good and bad from multiple people.

What about illegible hechsherim, why are these the best ones, you know those hechsherim on really heimishe products that you can hardly read, but they must have Yiddish in them so they are ok. Of course these products usually have 2, 3 sometimes 4 hechsherim on them just to make sure and spread the kasharus money around.

If the hechsher isnt good in many peoples minds, does that mean its not kosher? Or does it just mean that its not up to your standards, like non-glatt meat or something? Speaking of non-glatt meat, many people think its treife, but we just have taken on the chumra of glatt.

Another Conversation:

You sure thats kosher

Yeh they sell it at the Glatt Mart.

I dont know about that, it says pork and beans.

So why would they sell it at a kosher store? These people dont make mistakes.

Don’t even get me started on triangle-K…and the kasharus industry in general.

As a side note, I tend to argue with the folks who bitch and moan about kasharus nowadays compared to 50 years ago, there are so many folks that think you can merely look at a label and tell that it is good to eat and that just isn’t the case. There are so many animal and insect by-products used in flavoring and preseving that without kosher supervisors we wouldn’t be able to eat much of the processed food available today.

I think we do need hechsherim and kosher supervision, but the industry in general is somewhat of a racket, kind of like the mob. You have these restaurants that have threats from local kasharus agencies that want them closed on Saturday nights to prevent intermingling of the sexes – or else they will take away their hashgacha, what does that have to do with whether it’s kosher or not? It almost goes along the lines of hechsher tzedek – which doesn’t certify kasharus, it certified ethics.

I really would love to have a conversation with someone smart about vegan or raw food that doesn’t need a hechsher on it, someone who knows the industry but can actually talk frank – so hard to find.

{ 61 comments… add one }
  • Rob K. December 25, 2009, 12:50 AM

    I eat Amy’s, and will continue to do untill someone give me a true halachic reason why the Ner Tamid K is treife.

    As far as the vegan, I used to live near a vegan Asian place. The orthodox rabbis in town said the usual “I wouldn’t eat there.” Why? Because the hechsher was given by one rabbi who went to Torah V’das. Fine in my book. But true vegans do not eat dairy, fish or meat. So there is no issues with the food. What was the reason? The local Va’ad wasn’t collecting their tribute.

    Sadly the place closed because the landlord jacked up their rates. A relative of mine found a similar type of place in the Village – Sacred Cow – although it’s not specifically Asian. I haven’t been there, and I haven’t been to Buddha Bodai either.

  • Rabba bar bar Chana December 25, 2009, 1:00 AM

    Ner-Tamid K is actually from a rabbi on Staten Island. I’ve been very frustrated with this hechsher for a long time for the exact same reasons you are. I’m a vegetarian and those meals, which are in many supermarkets, would be great on the road. And no one can tell me specifically why it’s a problem, just that it is.

    If a rabbi is Orthodox, why shouldn’t his hechsher be good? That’s how it was before the era of the Kosheropolies.

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2009, 10:04 AM

      Well the Rabbi in Syracuse and Boulder Colorado – both small towns said they could find nothing wrong with it. I asked people from Staten Island and they all told me he’s a reliable guy, which seems to mean nothing to most folks.

      • Yael December 27, 2009, 3:08 AM

        Heshy, which rabbi in Boulder? I ask because there are more rabbis per capita in Boulder than anywhere else I have ever lived. In addition to two Chabad houses (one for the town, the other for the university) and the Hillel, there are two Jewish Renewal congregations, one reconstructionist, a humanist and one JOTE (Jews of the Earth). So which one said there was “nothing wrong” with Amy’s? I might “go by” a kashrus opinion from the ‘Open Orthodox’ Aish Kodesh, but The Adventure Rabbi? Maybe not so much.

  • ghottistyx December 25, 2009, 1:12 AM

    Help me out here. Why should vegan food need a hechsher? There is NOTHING in vegan food that could possibly be treif. No milk OR meat being mixed with anything, nothing improperly slaughtered–assuming that the food is 100% certified vegan, nothing about it could possibly be treif. The only thing I can possibly think of is Bishul Accum…

    You’ll have to pardon me, I am one of those who believes that the kashrus industry is about the money and politics. It’s not about whether or not the food is acceptable by halakha, but whether or not Rabbi X or Y approves of certain things…I think I may have posted examples of such elsewhere. But really, my grandmother has told me about the good old days where Boro Park had ONE kosher butcher, and everyone in Boro Park who was Jewish went to him, no questions about whether or not he was kosher enough; it was accepted that he knew his hilchos chullin, that he shechted the animal properly, and that was that.

    • susitna December 25, 2009, 5:08 AM

      I’m with you. Until a fresh carrot needs a hechsher, all vegan food is kosher enough for me with or without rabbinic supervision.

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2009, 10:05 AM

      Vegan food would need hechsher because of wine or vinegar

      • susitna December 25, 2009, 3:34 PM

        Fair enough. I always forget that one.

    • Steve December 25, 2009, 3:31 PM

      The main issue, I would think, is bugs. Especially with lettuce this is a big issue.

      • Chris_B December 27, 2009, 1:40 AM

        Steve, you DO realize that some insect material ends up in every processed food you buy, right? Even the mostest kosherest of meats is gonna have some small percentage of bugs.

    • Anonymous August 19, 2010, 3:36 PM

      who is checking all the vegetables for bugs. This is a very important problem since we must check produce for bugs.

    • Chava January 10, 2012, 10:40 AM

      If it wasn’t properly checked for bugs, it’s not very vegan. I would hate to ingest an aphid!

    • Eliot January 9, 2019, 9:13 PM

      Bugs. Eating an insect can violate 7 Torah prohibitions. Much worse than pork. Proper bedika for insects is a huge hurdle that vegans and vegetarians don’t take into account vis a vis kashrut- but it is a big deal and many recognized heksherim require mashgiach temidi just for that reason.

  • BT at Work December 25, 2009, 2:11 AM

    I check the Amy’s box in the grocery store every couple months hoping they upgraded the hechsher… I did research about the hechsher online when I first found it and couldn’t find anything strongly one way or the other, just a lot of “not recommended”. Lame.

  • yonah65 December 25, 2009, 2:29 AM

    All I have ever seen on the Amy’s is a generic letter K, never a hekhsher. Looks like it would be so good to eat but no one holds by a letter K alone, it would be insanity.

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2009, 10:06 AM

      The k is on the front and if you turn the package around you will notice the torchlight-k

  • abandoning eden December 25, 2009, 3:03 AM

    Amy’s may be healthier than other canned foods, but I don’t think you can call any processed/canned food “healthy” as they are all chock full of salt. 1 can of their “no chicken noodle soup” alone has HALF your recommended daily intake of sodium, and their alphabet soup has nearly 60% of your daily value in one can.

  • YiddisheMama December 25, 2009, 3:31 AM

    The Ner Tamid is on the back of the package. My understanding is that no improvements were made after certain companies “upgraded” from the triangle k. I believe that the politics of of kashruth is placing a great burden on all of us. I spoke with an owner of a vegan company who stopped paying for a hecksher . What do I know? I do not buy into the micro-organisms in water chumrah and am dubious of the asparagus and broccoli crown ban. My late husband published a list of hecksharim he’d like to see and my favorite was the AK the almost kosher,

  • rabbabarbarchana December 25, 2009, 4:15 AM

    AE,

    Amy’s makes a whole line of frozen meals. If anything, that’s the main part of their products. The canned stuff is much less.

    • abandoning eden December 25, 2009, 11:43 PM

      oh yeah i know they actually have the best tasting frozen food I have ever tasted, but that too is still less healthy than cooking from fresh ingredients- frozen food also contains a ton of salt, they use it as a preservative.

  • yoni December 25, 2009, 4:36 AM

    yes yes yes. awesome post.

  • dassi December 25, 2009, 4:46 AM

    good post. i am vegan- aka, the frummie’s of the food world- and have found this topic to come up regularly among my friends. if a product is vegan it does not necessarily guarantee that the food was not processed on machinery that processes dairy and such. vinegars used in vegan food may not be kosher. the good news– vegans are as disciplined about their diet as the chareidim. if a product is made by a company that only makes vegan products- then the cross-contamination is not an issue. i will bring 100% certified vegan processed food into my home without concern but i will also eat broccoli and asparagus without running it through a dishwasher-so there you go.

  • Max December 25, 2009, 6:15 AM

    There are valid points on both sides of the issue. Yes, kashrus agencies are 90% about money, and 10% about actual kashrus. Period. If Amy’s wanted an OU or Star-K, I’m certain any Kashrus agency would find very little to change in the Amy’s processing plants, and would certify them for the right price. However, many ingredients used today in industrial food processing require a PhD in food chemistry to fully understand the complexities involved in determining the source of every product. To create a blanket ban of “small town” hechsherim, though, is total nonsense. Many of these small town mashgichim contract out their services to larger hechsherim as well. The Ner Tamid mashgiach at the Amy’s plant could very well certify products for OU or OK as well.

  • M. December 25, 2009, 8:55 AM

    The responses on this blog highlights the inane irrationality plaguing many in our midst.

    The Rabbi who endorses Amy’s is a musmach of R’ Moshe Feinstein, a shomer shabbos yid!

    Frum yidden have a chezkas kashrus, and those who baselessly question mashgichim are doing harm to themselves, those who endorse the products, as well as to our mesora.

    This also highlights the irrational acclamations people generally associate with one symbol over another. Do any of you who are doubting this know any more about the OU than you know about this hashgacha? I shudder to think whether you even know halacha. If you’re going to be skeptical, at least be consistently skeptical.

    Moreover, many of you seem unaware of the colossal amounts of money larger hechsherim charge over smaller hechsherim. Ignoring this and other unfortunate realities associated with OU-like monstrosities, you instead claim that there must be some unknown, nonkosher reason for why the OU hasn’t been contracted for the Amy’s job.

    Instead of basing your halachic decisions on animalistic emotions, why don’t you go learn halacha and do investigations on your own. Making up your own torah is a corruption of yahadus and an embarrassment to any rationally thinking human being.

  • M. December 25, 2009, 9:02 AM

    Also, just because something may be free of nonkosher ingredients doesn’t mean it’s kosher… there is still the issue of bishul akum.

    • Heshy Fried December 25, 2009, 10:09 AM

      Yes buit bishul akum only applies to food that cannot be eaten raw

      • M. December 25, 2009, 10:28 AM

        There is a machlokes rishonim over exactly what bishul akum applies to.

      • Yochanan December 25, 2009, 1:42 PM

        Isn’t there also a concept called Shulchan Melekh? If a king, or similar leader, would not eat a TV dinner at his table it doesn’t count as Bishul ‘Akum.

  • GailSNail December 25, 2009, 9:24 AM

    So glad to hear from other kosher-keeping vegan-food-loving people! I agree that it’s much harder to make vegan stuff traife, the only things I can think of are the vinegar issue, the bishul akum issue, and the other one I though of is that a lot of vegan places in Manhattan serve non-kosher wine, so some of the dishes could have been made with traife wine and still be considered vegan. I will pretty much eat in any vegan place that is certified by an ortho-ordained Rabbi. I’ve tried the Amy’s stuff and found it too heavily sauced and seasoned- be aware there are a few varieties of Amy’s that are NOT kosher (listed on the website). My new addiction are the gardein Tuscan “Chicken” breasts- mostly b/c they are 22g protein and only 2 ww points. Though not certified, they are 100% vegan, and they make the same gardein product frozen under the Morningstar Farms label.

  • sheva December 25, 2009, 1:11 PM

    case and point….
    Sixteen Bean Soup Mix with Ham Seasoning
    UPC #75480753595
    Issue:
    These products bear an unauthorized OU symbol and are being withdrawn from the marketplace. Individuals spotting these products are requested to contact the Orthodox Union at 212-613-8148 or via email at kashalerts@ou.org.

    • MCr January 16, 2012, 5:01 AM

      The FDA could shut down a company that mislabels its products like that! The OU doesn’t have such power. A good argument in favor of reading labels rather than relying on symbols.

  • cwsilverberg December 25, 2009, 8:33 PM

    Hesh the deak with the great hechsher divide is the issue of what is called gevinas akum http://www.kashrut.com/articles/cheese/ i belie ve that the torch k and some other kosher certification companies found on your I don’t know why but are not trusted list do not hold of gevinas akum.
    I personally could not care either way, as for my self i do not eat it because i have to maintain some boundary’s for myself , but the guy with the hecsher is in fact a torah observant jew with a minority opinion.

  • cwsilverberg December 25, 2009, 8:35 PM

    on another note I have recently decided after much due diligence and research and not getting a straight answer from anybody that I am 100 percent comfortable eating the “Its not recommended but I cant tell you why” Indian Hechser.

  • Anonymous December 25, 2009, 9:51 PM

    I have celiac disease and Amy’s makes a great line of gluten-free frozen meals that would make my life SO SO SO much easier to be able to eat, especially when I visit my family. I have to confess I stopped eating Amy’s a few years ago after reading online that most people dont hold by that heksher. Now I feel stupid, because obviously I should have done my own research – But as a BT I didn’t know how to do that. So I just assumed if “most people” (whatever that means) didn’t hold by it, I shouldn’t. Now I”m wondering if I should reconsider.

    But keep in mind, Amy’s is NOT vegan – They have lots of products with cheese, which can have its own issues (even if vegetarian, which their cheeses are) as well as the wine and vinegar issues. There are also questions about whether a rabbi in Staten Island can be providing adequate supervision to a plant in CA. Still, I don’t think an Orthodox rabbi is certifying *unkosher* food as kosher, you know? So it’s hard to accept that we should just reject this heksher with no concrete reasons. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to give rabbis the benefit of the doubt.

  • David December 25, 2009, 10:46 PM

    Heshy,
    You seem to have already decided based on nothing that this hechsher is accetable to you, so why are you asking what the problem is? If someone gave you a reason why it is not good, would you listen and stop eating eat?

    • Heshy Fried December 27, 2009, 2:17 AM

      The post is not about that hechsher – I don’t know why it veered towards there. I only eat their vegan products, because I have heard one of the issues with him is his opnions of gevinas akum which is problematic.

      If someone gave me a reason why their vegan products with a hechsher were not good I would stop eating it – the only thing I really like of theirs is the canned refried beans and chili

  • Sergey Kadinsky December 26, 2009, 10:17 PM

    Here is an example of a hechsher that’s worth questioning:

    1. Rabbi Yaakov Spivak’s UKS, which supervises Taim Falafels in Greenwich Village.

    When I went there last June, the hechsher certificate on the wall was expired by several months. When I called UKS, Rabbi Spivak assured me the Taim was kosher, and a new certificate was on the way. The owner of Taim also assured me that the food was kosher and inspected. As of August, Taim still had the expired hechsher on its wall.

    When in doubt, I would call the rabbi supervising the establishment. If the rabbi has no idea what you’re talking about, remind the rabbi the implications of having an expired certificate bearing his name.

    Here’s them ost comprehensive local list I know: http://nachas.org/BethYehuda/kosher.html

  • Chris_B December 27, 2009, 1:54 AM

    As far as the money game thing goes, wasnt Coca Cola Star K for a while? As I understand it they went from OU to Star K then later back to OU. Anyone who thinks any of their bottling plants or formulas changed is off their rocker.

    I guess its all good if fancy big city Jews wanna hold this sorta politricks in their own homes, but the rumor spreading aint no good no how. As for Amy’s, I’m even happy to pay the high prices and schlep out to the one store in Tokyo that has their stuff cuz that is the only kosher (of any kind) lasagna available here. I desperately want to eat right but its dang hard here in the outer edges of the diaspora.

    Like I’ve mentioned on these kinds of threads before, I wont be surprised if it comes to the point that the Machmirim will only eat a pulpy food paste approved and pre-chewed by their local Rebbe.

  • AbetheGunGuy December 27, 2009, 5:10 PM

    Having many friends who work in the Kashrus industry… They explained to me one of the major issues with smaller certifications.

    The first is reputation. An organization like the OU, Chaf-K or Star-K has the reputation of its Rabbis to base their trustworthiness on. A small town Hechsher is usually given by an unknown Rabbi, so people from out of town question who he is.

    The second is minimum standards. Most hechsherim agree on minimum standards that they can all agree on to be considered reliable for each other. A small hechsher may (or may not) follow those guidelines, which is why you get the “not recommended” answer. The Triangle-K will not agree to those standards, so they are not trusted by as many. The Half-moon K recently adopted those standards and is now considered to be by the other major organizations perfectly legitimate (OU’s Sept-Oct issue of 2009).

    The issue with bugs (not microscopic, but actual creepy-crawlies) is a real one and is brought on by two things, the increase in technology where we can actually see them and the increase in our buying ability so that we can be more discerning. If I am homeless, halachah allows me to get food from almost anywhere, if I am a multi-millionaire I am required to be stricter.

    Leaving aside the issue of if Veganism is ok according to Halachah (very touchy subject) , the issue of vinegars, cheese (which can use trief materials to be made), bishul and even the issue of kashering the pots/pans/silverware/manufacturing facility all have to be taken into account. Also, Veganism does not require 100% compliance, if a piece of pork fell into a pot, they will pull it out and then serve it at restaurants (I know of an actual situation like that).

    • Heshy Fried December 27, 2009, 5:25 PM

      My father once mad a vegetarian cry at our pesach table – she said that she was a vegetarian for moral reasons and my father the ever present right wing talmud toting guy he is went nuts on her.

      He told her that she was saying everyone in the torah was immoral and everyone who ever gave a karbon etc…was immoral if she was doing it for moral reasons. He told her she was a real am haaretz and she left in tears. I was maybe 15 at the time and had no idea what had transpired.

      • MCr January 16, 2012, 5:14 AM

        The incident between your dad and a vegetarian reminds me of an incident back when I was first becoming frum I spent some time in Monsey NY at Or Sameach. I was (and, 32 years later, still am) a veggie, and was invited for a meal at the home of one of the school’s financial supporters, a streimel-wearing dude with about 15 kids (I asked one of the older sons, who was almost my age, if he’d ever heard of the Beatles. “No” he said. “I don’t follow baseball.”) Anyway, I was given a delicious vegetarian lunch, and nobody said anything negative, but during the meal Mr. Streimel said that only imbeciles could be vegetarians because the Torah clearly forbids it yadda yadda yadda. I immediately lost my appetite, politely excused myself, and left.

        Later that day, another student who was at the meal caught up with me. I was pretty upset, and he calmed me down by telling me he thought Mr. Streimel was a jerk, and reminding me that there are all kinds of people and all approaches to Yiddishkeit and clearly this wasn’t the one for me but keep looking. Another Rav at the school said sometimes when you sample different flavors of ice cream you come across one that tastes vile, but you move on and eventually find one that puts you in heaven.

    • M. December 28, 2009, 1:05 AM

      Stop writing in platitudes and back up your blanket ‘halachic’ claims.
      Halacha is halacha, it doesn’t change based on how much money you have. If an item of food is kosher, then it is kosher. An item of food can’t be kosher for person A and unkosher for person B. Kashrus isn’t some subjective notion; it’s a halachic reality that obtains in relationship to items of food. No famous rabbi, regardless of what world-renown symbol he lays claim to, can make an item of food ‘more’ kosher than another rabbi. This is not to say that there aren’t disagreements about what the halacha is; just that kashrus is a status of the food, not of a person.

      Kashrut agencies are a modern – dare I say Reform – invention. The kashrut agency has caused social and even religious reformation to the traditional jewish community and halacha. They have self imposed themselves as magistrates legislating hilchos kashrus, undermining the traditional convention of simply learning a sugya or consulting a rabbi to determine whether an item of food is okay to consume or not. There is nothing in halacha that says that an item needs to bear a certain hasgacha to be kosher, and the fact that so many within our community act as if these agencies are hilchos moshe m’sinia is a travesty.

      • AbetheGunGuy December 29, 2009, 2:12 PM

        @M. I was not writing in platitudes. The issue of whether pikuach nefesh gets involved, or whether other potential issues come into play (such as better to eat a worse hechsher and provide a torah education or eat food under a better hechsher and send your kids to public school) is one that only a local competent Orthodox Rabbi (LCOR) can ascertain, which I do not claim to be. There are halachic realities involved that are objective, but whether you can hold by certain heterim is a subjective issue best discussed with your LCOR.

        Hasgachas have come about as a practical matter, given the wide spread use of chemicals, additives and other minute amounts of ingredients that would not show up on the ingredient listing on the package. They are a relatively new phenomenon because using such ingredients has become relatively new. We are told we must be stringent in our mitzvot, and yet when it comes to kashrus it seems that we are willing to be lenient because of convenience. I am NOT saying all stringencies are proper, or that politics does not play a role. I am saying that discounting all hechshering because of preconceived notions or false information/ideology is absolutely wrong.

  • dassi December 27, 2009, 11:36 PM

    to abethegunguy-
    would you please explain to me two things:
    1. how would cheese be considered vegan?
    2. why do you believe veganism a “touchy subject” according to halachah?

    • AbetheGunGuy December 29, 2009, 2:17 PM

      @Dassi

      I know of some vegan’s who do eat cheese because it is a natural product that does not require the death of a living animal (unlike eggs/meat/fish). I do not know if they fit the strictest definition of vegan, but they consider themselves that so I decided to include it.

      Veganism is a touchy subject because (as Heshy mentioned above) doing it for moral reasons flies in the face of the concept of animal sacrifices ordered by G-d, the blanket statement that “there is no true happiness without wine and meat” and other references to the eating and usage of animals in the Torah. How does a vegan participate in the Korban Pesach, which all Jews are obligated to partake in?

      • dassi December 29, 2009, 5:49 PM

        i believe the operational definitions of vegetarian and vegan is needed- please allow me to clarify. vegetarians are generally ovo-lacto, meaning they will eat eggs and dairy products. vegans do not eat animals OR animal by-products- meaning no eggs, cheese, milk, butter, and for many, honey. someone who eats cheese and says they are vegan is not, just as someone who says they keep kosher and eats cheese steaks does not.
        as far as participating in the korban pesach, it is halachically acceptable to use a broiled/roasted beet as a substitute.

        • AbetheGunGuy December 29, 2009, 8:08 PM

          @ Dassi

          I was unaware of that there were strict differences between the two, I thought there was a sort of blending/grey area… my apologies on that front.

          However, I would love to know what authority says it is ok to use a broiled/roasted beet as a substitute, especially when the Torah and all halachic sources I can find refer to it specifically as a lamb. What is allowed on a seder plate is one thing, but when we had a proper korban pesach it had to have been offered as a korban itself (parts are burned on the altar). How can you do that with a vegetable?

          • Rachel February 7, 2013, 8:59 AM

            Until moshiach and the rebuilding of The Temple, the obligation of the korban can not be fulfilled. My Rav says that some believe that in the Messianic age, wheat will be the offering. To say that one is vegetarian/vegan for moral reasons is in no way a slight on our ancestors and their offerings as the processes in no way resemble one another. They raised the animals in the field, fed them whole foods and slaughtered them themselves- from birth until death they were treated with reverence. The same cannot be said of meat on our plates.

  • kashrus info December 29, 2009, 1:13 AM

    THE NER TAMID K/TORCHK This Rabbi is not dishonest but unfortunately does not get it and is in over his head regarding his ability to effectively supervise Kashrus
    The following was written a few years back
    * By David Koeppel
    * Published Apr 2, 2006

    When is a restaurant that serves bacon considered kosher? To most Orthodox rabbis, the answer is easy: never. But Staten Island rabbi Dov Hazdan has been granting his own kosher certification to city Dunkin Donuts franchises that have served bacon, ham, and sausage, the trayf trifecta. The meats all come prepackaged, says Hazdan. The employees have to wear gloves. I do not condone mixing kosher with nonkosher. In Manhattan, Hazdan has also given his ner tamid K stamp to Pongal Vegetarian, an Indian restaurant that operates during the Jewish Sabbath, another no-no among the pork police. Hazdan was recently fired as the kosher supervisor at a Dunkin franchise on 34th Street after it received complaints from the Yeshiva University community about the rabbi and the pork. Spokesmen for the four top kosher-certifying agencies said they would never approve a restaurant that served nonkosher meats or operated on the Sabbath. Who knows what goes on behind the counter? says one Staten Island rabbi of Hazdan-approved shops. Hazdan insists his methods are 100 percent kosher.

    In conclusion I want to be Dan Lekaf Zechus that he realized his folly since these incidents. Only Simchas

  • Eliyahoo William Dwek May 10, 2010, 2:41 PM

    Any man who chooses to be a rabbi (true teacher of Torah) or a dayan (judge), or a mekubal (kabbalist) should be doing so Voluntarily. Out of his pure love for Hashem and the Torah. And his Ahavat Yisrael.

    If he refuses to do community work voluntarily, and wants and accepts payment for everything he does, such a man should not be leading a community. He should get a job and earn a living. He can collect milk bottles or clean the windows. That is what is called earning a living.

    Torah is learned, studied and taught: out of Love. Voluntarily. But the rabbis have turned the Torah into their Profession, from which they earn money.

    We are commanded in the Shema to:
    LOVE Hashem, your G-d, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your might.

    VEAHAVTA et Hashem Elokecha BECHOL LEVAVECHA uvechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha. (Devarim, Vaethanan, 6:4-5)

    Is the ordinary man or woman PAID to pray to Hashem, or to say some words of Torah? No. Has veshalom! But the rabbis are. These men can give lovely shiurim that they have rehearsed. But they would not give a shiur without being paid for it.

    The true hachamim and rabbis of old, all actually worked at proper jobs and professions.

    Wake up! Even a little child could have worked this out. These salaried men can never truly stand for the Torah, because in a case of conflict between a correct course of action according to the Torah, and the rabbi or ravs pocket his pocket and position will always prevail.

    Pirkei Avot: (2:2)
    Raban Gamliel beno shel Rabi Yehuda HaNassi omer: yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz, sheyegiat shenaihem mashkachat avon. Vechol Torah sheein imah melacha sofa betailah vegoreret avon. Vechol haoskim im hatzibbur yiheyu imahem leShem Shamayim

    Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabi Yehuda HaNassi, said: It is good to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, for working at them both drives sin from the mind. All Torah without an occupation will in the end fail and lead to sin. And let all who work for the community do so for the sake of Heaven

  • Eliyahoo William Dwek May 10, 2010, 2:42 PM

    When dayanim, rabbis and false mekubalim use the Torah for their own power and commercial profit, this behaviour is abhorrent.

    No other rabbi will ever act against another rabbi – even when he knows his colleague is clearly desecrating the Torah. Each rabbi is only worried about losing his own position.

    Therefore, the rabbi, dayyan or false mekubal (kabbalist) will never effect justice. And he will never truly stand for the Torah or the Honour of Hashem. His pocket will always prevail.

    The Torah must never be used for commercial gain and profit. Amm israel can only be lead by those who have the necessary love and respect of Hashem and the Torah.

  • Ben Azzi July 8, 2012, 9:37 AM

    Some rabbis privately supervise restaurants and they do it for the Money.
    They do not spend some of the profits to have a check on the vegetables that have telayim… These some creepy crawling critters are worst than pork in the eyes of The Torah. When one gets post facto a product with a ground up bug, it is nulliified, seeing as it is not a bear’yah a whole bug.
    Watch out for private supervisions…who are out to get money for themselves. Why are their restaurants so inexpensive?? because they do not supervise properly and save mucho pesos with inadequate hachgachah.

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  • BMG August 3, 2013, 7:57 PM

    I was given one of these meals at a work event and it was obvious to me that there was a problem with the kashrus even before I made inquiries into the hechsher (which I did – both Rabbis said to stay away from it). The cheese is not made under supervision. Even before I became frum I knew that you couldn’t assume cheese is kosher just because it’s made with vegetarian rennet.

    I wonder whether people complaining about people who don’t hold by this hechsher would have thought twice had they been told it’s OK? Probably not. That’s why we ask sha’alehs – to make sure we do the right thing.

    As a result of my not being able to eat this meal, I showed the caterer a meal I had brought with me and was able to ensure that my company’s caterer knew the meals he had provided were not acceptable, and instead next time he will order Meal Mart meals which are under a reliable hechsher and there won’t be a problem.

  • RMR November 10, 2013, 8:51 PM

    If anyone thinks that O-U or Kof K or any of the “accepted” kashrut agencies are any more kosher than Ner Tamid you are living in fantasy world.

  • inanna April 19, 2014, 1:18 PM

    There is an issue with grapes. We do not drink the wine of strangers, and we do not use grape products that are not certified kosher. I do not know what it takes for grapes to be kosher…maybe Jews have to pick the grapes????

  • inanna April 19, 2014, 1:19 PM

    My objection to Amy’s is the difficulty in finding gluten-free corn-free gmo-free products.

  • inanna April 19, 2014, 1:27 PM

    I have noticed that hechshered food tends to be loaded with sugar, gluten, corn, GMos, or all four. I soak the lettuce and broccoli myself. I HAVE been able to find O/U or Star K or the like on canned tomatoes (and sometimes tomato sauce) with a hechsher and “zero” (ie very little) sugar. But except for canned tomatoes and sauce, I cook from scratch. When travelling, I cook ahead of time and take food with me. I admit that when camping there’s not much I can do except take canned dark tuna and dry rice.

  • inanna April 19, 2014, 1:30 PM

    You’re kidding about broccoli in the dishwasher, I hope.
    But what I do is put it into a big bowl of salty water until no more mites appear. Sometimes this occurs at once. Sometimes it takes three or four new bowls of salty water.

  • inanna April 19, 2014, 1:45 PM

    I have searched the web without result. In the supermarket I saw a box of Nasi Goreng (spinach, eggs, and cottage cheese, except that it tastes better than that sounds) and it had what seemed to be a heksher. I cannot find this heksher anywhere. It looks like a simple sketch of a menorah with the word Kosher in Hebrew across it. It even says Dairy. It is made in India, I THINK, but since I’m not looking at it right now, I can’t tell. How can I find out if this heksher is valid? Has anyone here heard of it, or seen it?

    • paper February 21, 2015, 4:49 PM

      I’m not sure if it’s the exact same one, but there’s a heksher on some Indian food, such as Tasty Bite meals and Costco’s samosas that my husband and I hold is okay for parve. My husband looked into it and found that the rabbi is reputable and holds much the same as everyone else for parve food. Because cholov stam doesn’t really apply to India, and the food doesn’t say cholov yisroel, my husband won’t currently eat the dairy. It’s possible that it’s fine, but you’d need to contact the rabbi in charge to figure that out.

      The hecher I’m thinking of is this one: http://kosherepicurean.blogspot.com/2005/08/kosher-inspection-service-india.html

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