OU Kosher Is ‘Coming To A Yeshiva near You’

19 May 2006

Orthodox Union rabbis are “Coming to a Yeshiva Near You!” to shed light on the ever more complex world of kosher certification in light of new foods, ingredients, and machinery which are continually coming into existence.

The program is directed towards Jewish schools across North America.

In announcing the new initiative, Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator and Vice President, Communications & Marketing, of OU Kosher, declared: “OU Kosher has recently undertaken a dramatic expansion of its educational programs for the broad Jewish community, including day schools and yeshivas. We have initiated a program under whose auspices we will send our experts to schools to give seminars on the latest in kashrut halacha (the Jewish laws of kosher) and technology, or on a topic of the given school’s choice. The programs will be geared to the needed grade levels.”

OU rabbis and mashgichim (kosher certifiers) will visit the schools to share their expertise with students and faculty alike, as well as answer students’ questions on general kashrut concerns.

Although the program is expected to go into full swing with the beginning of the next school year in the fall, some New York area schools have already signed up for May and June.

Rabbi Safran continued, “The halacha of kosher remains constant, but the conditions are constantly changing. Even yeshiva rabbis, with years of experience in teaching the halacha, will be gratified to hear from OU experts about the latest developments, for unless you are involved full time in kosher certification – as the OU rabbis are – it is impossible to keep up with the changing world of food production.”

The yeshiva program follows the introduction of two other programs earlier this year in which OU specialists share their knowledge and expertise on a wide variety of topics with kosher consumers and other interested individuals around the world. The programs are Kosher Tidbits, a comprehensive series of 15-minute broadcasts on OU Radio, www.ouradio.org; and a lecture series in which the OU experts take to the road to share their knowledge with audiences across North America. The newly introduced school program is similar to the latter initiative, which is directed primarily at synagogues.

The only charge to the schools for the program will be travel expenses.

The Orthodox Union, the world’s largest and most respected kosher certification agency, grants the famed OU symbol to more than 400,000 products manufactured in 80 countries around the globe. Its worldwide staff is guided by 50 New York-based Rabbinic Coordinators (RC’s), the overwhelming majority of whom are specialists in the global food industry. Each of these RC’s has spent years learning about and grappling with the halachic concerns of their assigned industries, and have visited countless plants and facilities where they have worked with industry specialists. They will form the backbone of the new yeshiva program along with local RFR’s – Rabbinic Field Representatives – who are located throughout North America.

Topics to be considered include:
* Ingredient panels (on packaging): unraveling the mysteries;
* A day in the life of an OU mashgiach;
* Certifying cakes and cookies: a bonus for mezonos (the blessing made over pastry);
* Kosher ice cream: cold facts about a hot topic;
* The kashrut of fish: of fins and scales and tuna tales.
* In addition, the experts will be glad to address any topic requested by the school.

For more information on the program, contact Rabbi Dr. Safran at safrane@ou.org, or Rabbi Eliyahu Ferrell, who is assisting Rabbi Safran with the programs, at ferrelle@ou.org.