OU Promotes Kashrus Awareness and Achdus With Four Varied Programs in 12 Days

15 Apr 2011


“ASK the OU Rabbonim” session in Boro Park (L to R): Rav Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbi Moshe Elefant and Rabbi Yosef Grossman.

Rabbi Moshe Perlmutter in kosherization demonstration at Lakewood’s Kollel Bais Hora’ah.

Beginning March 27 through April 7, the Harry H. Beren ASK OU OUTREACH Kashrus Program visited four varied communities in the New York City metropolitan area. The Sephardic community of Brooklyn was visited on March 27 at Congregation Shaare Zion. The Passaic-Clifton Community Kollel was next on April 3. This was followed by a visit to the predominately Chassidic community of Boro Park at Agudas Yisroel Zichron Moshe on April 6. The final destination was to Lakewood, NJ on April 7 at Rav Shlomo Miller’s Bais Hora’ah Kollel, one of the most prestigious kollelim in North America.

In reflecting on this record amount of visits is such a short time, Rabbi Yosef Grossman, Senior OU Educational Rabbinic Coordinator, who is in charge of the various programs at the OU sponsored by the Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood NJ, said: “We were greeted warmly in all the communities we visited. Not only were many hundreds enriched in kashrus awareness as a result of these programs but the achdus and unity these programs generated was palpable.”

The ASK OU program at Cong. Shaare Zion consisted of a presentation on “Present Kashrus Issues of Fish” by OU fish expert Rabbi Chaim Goldberg. This was followed by a shiur delivered by OU Posek Rabbi Hershel Schachter on “Kitniyot and Passover Issues.” OU Posek Rav Yisroel Belsky gave a shiur on the special requirements of “Bet Yosef Shehita.” The concluding portion of the program consisted of an “ASK the OU Rabbonim” session as the panel of Rav Belsky; Rabbi Menachem Genack, OU Kosher CEO; and Rabbi Moshe Elefant, OU Kosher COO, fielded kashrus questions from the audience.

Rabbis Eli Gersten and Gavriel Price, both Passaic residents, delivered excellent presentations and answered questions on the issue of “Medications for Pesach” at the Passaic-Clifton Community Kollel event.

Kosher wine and grape juice were the main focus of the ASK OU Boro Park program. Representing the OU, wine expert Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz delivered a PowerPoint presentation on “OU Kosher Wine and Grape Juice.” He was followed by an icon of the kosher wine industry, Mr. Feish Herzog of Royal Wine Corp., the producers of Kedem and many other high quality wines. His subject was “Kedem Wine and Grape Juice.” The evening concluded with another “ASK the OU Rabbonim” panel, again consisting of Rav Belsky, Rabbi Genack and Rabbi Elefant. The main focus of this question and answer session was kashrus issues relating to Pesach.

At Kollel Bais Hora’ah in Lakewood the OU sent two of its experts to discuss various aspects of Hechsher Keilim — the kosherization of vessels. Rabbi Gersten presented the halachic underpinnings of these kashrus laws which the members of the kollel had just completed studying. Rabbi Moshe Perlmutter, one of the OU’s kosherization experts, exhibited equipment used in kosherizations and shared incidents he has experienced in which the mashgiach needs to have expertise to determine that companies are accurately following proper kosherization procedures. The members of the kollel held the two rabbis for more than an hour following their presentations in an impromptu Q & A session.

To illustrate the close feeling of brotherhood felt at the ASK OU programs, Rabbi Grossman related a conversation he had with the Sephardic rabbi of Congregation Bnei Shaare Zion, who helped Rabbi Grossman arrange the first-ever Sephardic ASK OU Kashrus program. “As we took leave from each other on the phone right before Purim I said to Rabbi Ben Haim, ‘Purim Sameach,’ as the Sephardim wish each other. He replied to me, the non-Sephardi, ‘A Freilichin Purim to you as well.’ Then Rabbi Ben Haim added, ‘We are in Moshiach times when we find ourselves greeting each other using the greetings the other would use.’ ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘We are brothers!’”

The thirst for Torah knowledge as Lakewood’s Kollel Bais Hora’ah’s rabbis surround Rabbi Eli Gersten in center.

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