OU Kosher Not Passing Over Passover Consumer Relations Opportunities

23 May 2012


The final numbers are in, and here is how the OU Kosher Consumer Relations Department responded to thousands of questions in the month leading up to Passover:

• More than 2,000 inquiries were submitted to OU Kosher’s Webbe Rebbe (for information related to OU policies and OU products) and Social Media “OU Kosher” on Facebook and “@OUKosher” on Twitter;

• More than 5,000 phone calls were answered using the OU Kosher Hotline (212.613.8241), which was also open during Chol HaMoed;

• More than 10,000 individuals downloaded of the OU Kosher phone APP, a technological development which was substantially covered by Jewish and secular media;

• More than 61,000 copies of the OU Guide to Passover were printed and distributed;

• More than 100,000 unique visitors logged-on to the OU Kosher Passover website, www.oupassover.org.

And this was only part of OU Kosher Consumer Relations’ 2012 Pesach experience. The world’s most recognized kosher symbol proved once again that it is also the top destination for kosher information year-round — particularly regarding the challenging preparation for Passover.

According to Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, “We begin gearing-up for next year’s Passover literally the day after this year’s Passover has ended, under the leadership of Rabbi Shmuel Singer, working with Avigail Klein, to communicate with companies certified by the OU for Passover on their product results, and working with new companies in the process to develop products to be certified for the up-coming holiday. It is no wonder then, that when Pesach is actually approaching, so many thousands of people turn to the OU to answer their holiday-related questions.”

Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Chief Operating Officer of OU Kosher, explained, “OU Kosher invests much time and resources into providing excellent consumer relations. There is no time during the year when it is as busy as the Pesach season. OU Kosher’s Consumer Relations team touched many thousands throughout the world, serving a critical role in helping Jews around the world to prepare properly for the holiday.”

Rabbi Eli Eleff, OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator and Consumer Relations Administrator, noted, “We received 150 calls alone on erev Pesach (the hours prior to the holiday) when the OU Kosher hotline was opened for three hours. Callers thanked us profusely for being open to help with their questions; and many last-minute calls came from rabbis, as were from people who had been told by their rabbi to contact the OU. In fact, inquiries were received about products certified by other kosher organizations, as we were informed that the OU was the only agency open to help consumers erev Pesach.”

OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinators Rabbi Eli Gersten, Rabbi Chaim Goldberg, Rabbi Michael Morris, Rabbi Aharon Brun-Kestler, Rabbi Gavriel Price, Rabbi Eli Eleff, Rabbi Dov Schreier and Rabbi Daniel Nosenchuk rotated hotline coverage to answer questions on Jewish law and OU Kosher policy. “We had two people taking calls at the same time as there were approximately 500 calls per day coming in to the hotline the week leading up to Passover,” Rabbi Eleff shared.

Rabbi Eleff paid particular tribute to Rabbi Benjamin Geiger, “who has done a masterful job of managing the OU Kosher Hotline since taking his position at the OU less than a year ago.” The week before and the week of Passover, Rabbi Geiger would return calls at night which had been left on the hotline voicemail – sometimes up to 50 at a time. Chana Raizel Segal was also trained to answer calls on the hotline regarding OU certified products.

“Given the illness of OU Posek (decisor of Jewish law) Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky, archives of the past four years of pre-Passover webcasts, recorded together with OU Posek Rav Hershel Schachter, were posted for the community’s enlightenment and study, in response to the many inquiries received,” said Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, OU Kosher Vice President of Communications and Marketing.

Rabbi Moshe Zywica, OU Kosher Executive Rabbinic Coordinator and Director of Operations, played a leading supervision role in the entire efforts. Rabbi Zywica noted that the OU Kosher Consumer Relations staff is able to reach large audiences in great part from the high quality resources and maintenance provided by the interdepartmental professionalism and teamwork of OU Marketing and Communications, headed by David Olivestone, OU Senior Communications Officer; and the OU Internet Department, headed by Gary Magder, Director of Digital Media Marketing.

Rabbi Elefant answered Pesach-related questions on the Zev Brenner Show every night for four weeks; Senior Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, editor of the OU Guide to Passover, spoke with Rabbi Yosef Wikler on the Jewish radio station Hidabroot; and Rabbi Gersten, Rabbinic Coordinator for Recording Rulings and Policy of OU Kosher, spoke on “JM in the AM” with Nachum Segal.

Highlights of the special ASK OU Passover presentation, coordinated by OU Kosher Senior Educational Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Yosef Grossman, at the Queens Jewish Center in Forest Hills where Rabbi Geiger serves as spiritual leader, included Rabbi Rabinowitz addressing “OU Wine and Grape Juice;” an “Ask the OU Rabbis” Question and Answer session on holiday and year-round kosher issues featuring Rabbis Elefant and Gersten; and Rabbi Dov Schreier, Rabbinic Coordinator for Food Service at OU Kosher, on “Hotels, Catering and Restaurant Issues for Pesach and Year-Round.”

Additionally, special presentations by OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinators were given in Brooklyn; Columbus, OH; Lakewood, NJ and Toronto.

Rabbi Elefant emphasized, “As the world leader in Passover preparations, OU Kosher is constantly upgrading our relations with the kosher consumer to better connect with, and contact us. From “How to kosher,” to “What medicines can I take on Passover?” “Can I use this product on Passover?” or “Where can I shop after Passover?” the Orthodox Union will continue to best assist consumers in all of their pre-Pesach and post-Pesach shopping and preparations needs.”

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