OU Kosher: Building Bridges to the World of Yeshivos

26 May 2011


Rav Moshe Brown, of the Agudath Israel of West Lawrence, speaking at a recent OU Kashrus Conference; Rabbi Yosef Grossman is seated on right.

OU Kosher, supported by funding from the Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood, NJ, has developed programs to bring experts from the OU to large and appreciative audiences to explain the finer points of ancient kosher law, as it is applied to modern food technology. These experts have included Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher; Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of OU Kosher; and the poskim Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Yisroel Belsky. Audiences, including many senior rabbonim, look on fascinated at this display of Yoreh Deah knowledge.

Among these programs is ASK OU OUTREACH in which OU Kosher visits communities or hosts prominent rabbinic personalities of the yeshiva world. Below, Rabbi Yosef Grossman, Senior Educational Rabbinic Coordinator, who oversees the various Harry H. Beren programs which form the bridge between the OU and the yeshiva world, reports on these visits and how they have established relationships between the OU and these communities, to the benefit of both OU Kosher and the yeshiva world as well.

The Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood and the Orthodox Union have partnered to build a bridge between OU Kosher and the yeshiva world.

On the one hand, OU Kosher has crossed over this bridge by visiting yeshivos, kollelim and semicha programs with its ASK OU OUTREACH program, as well as hosting ten ASK OU (Advanced Seminars on Kashrus) programs in alternate summers between 1996 to 2010 for more than 650 semicha students and kollel members.

“We are not just a kashrus certifying agency. We are a kashrus educational agency,” declared Dr. Simcha Katz, President of the OU, and for many years the Chairman of the OU Kashrus Commission. Many of the educational programs were devised during his chairmanship. “For an OU expert to visit a community to discuss kashrus is like an eminent surgeon visiting a hospital to demonstrate a new technique. I am enormously proud that we are bringing our knowledge to the yeshiva communities and have been so well received while doing so.”

The OU has also hosted prominent Roshei HaYeshiva, Roshei Kollel and congregational rabbonim who have crossed the bridge the other way from the yeshivos to the OU. We have had the Rosh HaYeshiva of Tchechnov in Jerusalem, Rav Asher Weiss; Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky the Rosh HaYeshiva of the Yeshiva of Philadelphia; and a few months ago, the Mirrer Rosh HaYeshiva of Jerusalem, Rav Noson Tzvi Finkel. Rav Binyomin Cohen, the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Gur Aryeh in Brooklyn, and Rav Psachya Fried a prominent Rav and posek in Boro Park, have delivered shiurim at the OU’s annual Kashrus Conference.

This year Rav Moshe Brown, the Rav of the Agudath Israel of West Lawrence and a Rosh Yeshiva at the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, delivered a shiur at the Kashrus Conference as well.

Rav Brown, following in the footsteps of the illustrious Roshei HaYeshiva who preceded him, expressed his personal appreciation to all the rabbonim at the OU who devote so much effort into assuring that the public has available many products with the highest standard of kashrus.

Rabbi Genack expressed his satisfaction at the contacts which have been made. “I am deeply pleased with the bridges that have been built between the OU and the world of yeshivos,” he said. “I feel it in the amount of shiurim, publications and educational kosher videos the yeshiva world asks us to provide for them. You really get a sense, especially from some correspondence we have received, that they sincerely feel that the OU is their address for accurate knowledge in the world of kashrus. We are very pleased to be that provider.”

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