Kosher MRE’s for the IDF, Made With Texan Love

14 Feb 2024

“My heart is in the East and I am in the farthest West” Yehudah Halevi, Spanish rabbi, poet, and lover of Israel 1075-1141

Since the 7th of October 2023, I have felt helpless. Of course I have contributed financially to many causes supporting the IDF and Israel. It is without question that I have and continue to recite extra prayers and Psalms for the immediate return of the hostages and the success of our brave brothers and sisters in uniform. As a rabbi and educator, every class, lecture, and service has been permeated with Israel.

Feeling Helpless Amidst Conflict

Yet, I feel helpless. How can I make a real difference and do something significant to help my people?

As a rabbi in South Texas, I have had the pleasure and good fortune to work in the field of kosher supervision for close to three decades. I serve as a rabbinic field representative for many respectable kashrus agencies, among them the OU Kosher, the largest and most respected name in the industry. A number of weeks ago I received a call about doing a specialty run of baked items at Sterling Foods LLC, a local company that specializes in military contracts and MRE’s (meals ready to eat). This OU Kosher facility wanted to produce specific items for the IDF in partnership with the Chief Rabbinate of the IDF. The baked goods would need to meet the stringent kashrus level of the IDF, with all items pareve, pas Yisroel and yoshon.

A Special Mission for the IDF

Working closely with Sterling Foods plant manager Brian Dedick and Eric Erickson, Sr. Director of Government Contracting, as well as Rabbi Saadya Kaufman, regional Texas OU representative and Rabbi Daniel Nosenchuk,  baking specialist and account executive (RC) at the OU Kosher in New York, we have been able to make this project take off and succeed. To date, close to two million kosher-certified items have been shipped and air lifted to the front lines of Israel’s war. These items include energy bars, shortbread cookies, split bread, cinnamon buns, tortillas, bagels and others coming down the pike.

“Sterling Foods, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, has recently expanded our OU Kosher Pareve certified lines to include yoshon and pas Yisroel certified products. We sincerely appreciate Rabbi Marrus and the OU organization for their patient guidance as we worked to attain these specialized certifications. Shalom and we look forward to doing additional kosher pareve products,” said Eric Erickson, of Sterling Foods.

While this work is part of my daily routine and kashrus responsibilities, I have felt a tremendous sense of pride, connection, and purpose being part of this project. When my brothers and sisters on the front lines get some much-needed nourishment and strength from these food items, I hope they know that they were made with love and care in San Antonio, Texas.For the first time since October 7th, I feel I actually made a small difference.