Why would an organization with the most familiar logo in the Jewish world want to change it? That’s what many people wanted to know when they heard that the Orthodox Union (OU) was introducing a new logo. But the OU is emphatically not changing its famed kashrut certification mark——which was created eighty years ago to identify the first Heinz canned goods as OU certified. Today, that symbol is found on more than 400,000 products produced in over 6,000 plants in some eighty countries, making it the world’s most recognized and trusted kosher symbol.
We take great pride in the popularity of the OU logo. According to a recent study conducted by WAC Survey and Strategic Consulting, the overall rating of OU certification is significantly higher than any other kosher certification symbol. The OU symbol was recently termed a “coveted seal of approval” by The New York Times. Comparing it to the UL, Forbes Magazine wrote, “If you want to know if your food is kosher, you can look for the Orthodox Union’s OU symbol.” So while we would never tamper with the , which represents the highest standards of kashrut, we are introducing an additional logo to represent the impact the OU has on so many other areas of Jewish life.
Regrettably, many people still associate the OU with kashrut only. They either forget about or are unaware of the enormous work we do to bring unaffiliated teenagers in North America, South America, Israel and the Ukraine back to their Jewish roots. They forget that the OU is the engine behind NCSY, the largest and most successful Jewish teen outreach organization in North America, reaching some 30,000 teens. They forget that our Yachad program helps transform the lives of hundreds of developmentally disabled Jewish youth; our Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) advocates for Jewish concerns in Washington, DC; our Heshe & Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus strengthens Jewish youth on college campuses; our Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue Services represents the needs and interests of 800 OU synagogues throughout North America and our Seymour J. Abrams Jerusalem World Center runs dozens of critical programs for native Israelis and olim. They may even forget that it is the OU that publishes Jewish Action!
Somewhat ironically, we are forced to compete against our own success. Oftentimes, while visiting different Jewish communities around North America, I speak to congregants about various OU initiatives. When I finish discussing our array of programs, from kiruv on the college campus to Jewish camping to job placement, someone will invariably raise his hand and ask, “I saw a product with an OU-D. I read the ingredients and I’m not sure why it’s not pareve.” Such a comment reveals that that the individual only associates the OU with kashrut, and that he has, in fact, completely missed the entire thrust of my forty-five-minute discourse on the OU and the significant role it plays in Jewish life.
The OU is much more than kashrut, and we feel obligated to let the world know.
To this end, some months ago the OU Board of Directors determined that while all of our kosher products would continue to bear the world-famous OU logo, we would introduce an entirely new, fresh and exciting logo to represent all the myriad non-kashrut-related programs run by the OU.
The new OU logo was developed by National Director of Planning and Communications David Olivestone after extensive consultations with top-notch graphic designers, branding experts and marketers. The actual design was conceived by Joseph Tucker. With its clean and up-to-date look, the logo reflects what the OU is all about—a contemporary organization that is dedicated to enriching Jewish life in all spheres. The logo prominently displays the name “Orthodox Union” as well as our central theme of Torah and mitzvot. In addition, the logo features a new a tagline, “Enhancing Jewish Life,” affirming our belief that the lives of Jews throughout the Diaspora and in Israel are improved because of the work of the OU.
It is important to realize that while the OU is fueled by the revenues of kashrut, we could not provide all of our services without major fundraising efforts on our part. We are taught in Pirkei Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers, “Im ein kemach, ein Torah—If there is no flour, there is no Torah.” In order for the Torah world to prosper, it needs resources (kemach). In the past, we have relied, perhaps too heavily, upon the OU Kashrut Department for our kemach. As our programs expand to meet the continually evolving and pressing needs of the greater Jewish community of today and tomorrow, it is no longer possible for us to rely on the kashrut revenue to such an extent. We will therefore be embarking upon new and exciting fundraising initiatives in order to support our vital programs for the klal.
The logo also marks a new beginning at the organization as we transition from the current leadership of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb to that of Rabbi Steven Weil, presently the senior rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, California. Rabbi Weil will officially become the new executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union in July 2009. Rabbi Weinreb, who has occupied the position since 2002, will transition to executive vice president emeritus, enabling him to devote more time to writing, lecturing and giving shiurim. Rabbi Weil will follow in his footsteps and in those of other tremendous personalities who have guided the OU over the last century, each bringing his own style and personality to the organization. Widely acknowledged as a person with great vision, a tremendous work ethic, outstanding oratorical skills and a demonstrated commitment to financial development, Rabbi Weil will no doubt build on this strong foundation, injecting his own unique personality into the position. I am confident that the OU will flourish under his tenure.
As we usher in the New Year, we pray to Hakadosh Baruch Hu that we will be successful in all of our new endeavors. May this New Year bring good health, spiritual growth and Torah observance for the Jewish people. May it be a year of peace and tranquility in our Holy Land, Eretz Yisrael. And may the OU continue to go from strength to strength as we respond to the needs of the Jewish people, wherever they may be.