Twenty came from Lakewood and others from Monsey and New Square, NY, bastions of Judaism; smaller Jewish communities such as Indianapolis, Indiana and Scranton and Allentown in Pennsylvania were represented as well.
Besides Brooklyn, Kew Gardens Hills in New York was well represented. New Jersey communities included Cherry Hill, Springfield and West Orange. Philadelphia joined Scranton and Allentown in the Pennsylvania delegation.
Take a map, look for a Jewish community, and chances are that it was represented at the recently concluded ASKOU9 program of OU Kosher, intensive kashrut education for future mashgichim and for those already active in their communities who came to strengthen their skills.
The yeshivot and kollelim whose students participated were among the finest institutions of Jewish learning in the world. They included Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, which sent the 20 Chavrei HaKollel, the largest delegation ever from Lakewood to an ASKOU program. The Yeshivas Beis Zion of the Lauder Yeshurun Foundation in Berlin sent two young rabbis who returned home fortified with the skills to strengthen kashrut in Central and Eastern Europe. The Mirer Yeshiva Kollel in Jerusalem and the Philadelphia Community Kollel sent students. The RIETS rabbinical seminary at Yeshiva University was well-represented at the program.
Kollelim at Mesivta Tiferet Jerusalem of the Lower East Side, NYC; Bais Medrash L’Talmud and Ohr HaChaim in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, NY; and Emek Halacha, Yeshivas Derech Chaim and Belz in Brooklyn, NY all sent students.
ASKOU9 was divided into two programs – a three-week kashrut internship with 26 participants including rabbis, rabbinical and kollel students; and a one-week kashrut training program with 70 participants including community rabbis, assistant rabbis and students, as well as for members of local Va’adim HaKashrut. The two groups combined in the final week of the three-week session.
“We were amazed at the high caliber and diversity of the ASKOU participants,” declared Rabbi Yosef Grossman, OU Director of Kashrut Education, who coordinated the programs. “They literally came to ASKOU from the four corners of the Torah and kashrut world. Many of the participants were noted Torah scholars and authors. It was a privilege to host such a distinguished and diversified group of upcoming future Torah leaders.”
Together, the groups participated in lectures from OU experts, and went on the road to plants, slaughterhouses, restaurants and catering halls certified by the OU. Their responses showed the value of the program.
When asked how he liked the three-week session, Shmuel Kruk, a semicha student in Lakewood, responded enthusiastically, “I loved it.” Rabbi Avrumi Tannenbaum, a member of a Brooklyn kollel and a one-week ASK OU participant, commented that the program was “excellent, informative, and unbelievable to receive a service from an organization of this sort.” Yehuda Gras, another one week participant remarked, “Fabulously run with military precision and fantastic, fascinating lectures!” All this from someone who has taken the program for the third time! Apparently he really loves it.