Three Day OU Halachic Adventure in LA, Aug 5-7, to Delve Into the Realm of Exotic Birds and Animals

20 Jun 2007


It played to large and enthusiastic audiences in the east and now, by popular demand, it is coming west. From Sunday, August 5-Tuesday, August 7, the Orthodox Union will present a Three-Day Los Angeles Halachic Adventure. The Adventure will kick off with of a public session on “The Mesorah (Tradition) of Kosher Birds and Animals,” followed by a “show and taste” session that evening at an elegant Beverly Hills Restaurant.

Then, for the next two days, the OU will conduct kosher training seminars for kashrut professionals and students on wine, cheese and dairy, featuring visits to a noted wine cellar, a beverage facility and a dairy plant.

“The Harry H. Beren ASK OU Mesorah Conference,” as the Halachic Adventure is officially known, is sponsored by the Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood, NJ in memory of Mr. Harry H. Beren z”l. The Beren Foundation has sponsored a wide variety of ASK OU programs, making it possible for OU Kosher senior staff and guest lecturers to provide high-level education on the intricacies of kosher law to lay people and professionals alike.

Rabbi Yosef Grossman, Director of Kashrut Education at the OU, is coordinator of the three-day program.

Two mesorah conferences have been held in New York, one apiece in 2004 and 2006, drawing audiences of hundreds of fascinated men and women to each. The conferences are the brainchild of “The Two Ari’s,” Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky and Dr. Ari Greenspan, two Americans who have made aliyah to Israel, and who have devoted years to investigating which species are kosher and which are not. Their purpose is to restore kosher status wherever possible to animals, fish and poultry that at one time may have been acceptable but whose status is now in doubt, or have been considered kosher only in a limited area. They do this to maintain the mesorah, that is, the tradition, of which species can be eaten and which cannot.

The two Ari’s focus not on common species, whose kosher status is well-known. Rather, they deal in such categories as giraffe, swan, peacock, grasshopper, buffalo and other exotic creatures, and among other findings inform fascinated audiences that yes, grasshoppers are kosher – provided, of course, that you come from Yemen, where they have been consumed by Jews for centuries as a delicacy.

The Mesorah of Kosher Birds and Animals will investigate each of the above species on Sunday August 5 at OU West Coast Headquarters, 9831 West Pico Blvd, from 9:30 a.m-3:00 p.m., with registrants receiving a large and comprehensive manual of sources and readings.

This session will be followed by what Rabbi Grossman terms “an extraordinary Torah and gastronomic event,” The Halachic Seudah (meal) at the Prime Grill Restaurant on North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, at which such treats as quail, red deer, fleishig (meat) eggs, shibuta (a fish that according to the Talmud tastes like pork), bison, tambaqui (an exotic tropical fish whose flesh tastes like swine), and udder, among other rarities will be served. As each food sample is consumed, in this “show and taste” program, OU experts will provide fascinating discussions, videos and PowerPoint presentations.

In addition to the two Ari’s, Rabbi Menachem Genack, Chief Executive Officer of OU Kosher, and Rabbi Dr. Seth Mandel, OU Kosher’s expert on meat, will be on the menu, so to speak, of presenters.

“The reception of the two mesorah conferences in New York was phenomenal, and so we made the decision to bring the program to Los Angeles,” explained Rabbi Grossman. (The second conference, held last year, was devoted to The Pareve Mesorahs: A Halachic and Historical Perspective of Fish, Plants and Color.) Rabbi Grossman recounted how at the first conference the audience – made up of rabbis, students, and others interested in the finer points of kashrut – reacted with the same enthusiasm as children in an amusement park when grasshoppers were fried or rare birds in their cages were brought in to be discussed.

Rabbi Grossman recalls the individual who, for some reason, did not sleep at all the night before, and who had expected to doze during the presentations. Not only did he not sleep, he later told Rabbi Grossman, he was so stimulated that he remained energized into the next day as well.

The following two days of The Adventure will be devoted to kashrut training. On Monday August 6, from 8:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m., kashrut professionals and students will visit Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard for a review of the history and methods of kosher wine and grape juice production, and will hear from Philip Herzog, President of Royal Wine, and Joe Hurliman, Herzog’s Chief Wine Maker. There will be a guided tour of the new winery, including the cellar and barrel room.

Tuesday, August 7, a cheese and dairy kashrut training seminar will feature a visit to Dairy Farmers of America, in Corona, for a plant tour and exploration of halachic issues of kosher cheese and dairy production; these issues include chalav stam (milk not supervised by a Jew), mozzarella, whey cream, gelatin, casein and pizza. This will be followed by a tour of Aseptic Solutions USA, also in Corona, focusing on converting this high-tech beverage facility from dairy to pareve production. Both plant tours will be conducted by OU mashgiach Rabbi Aharon Shapiro.

All sessions require pre-registration. For costs (all applicable sessions are free to OU members), contact Rabbi Grossman at 212-613-8212 or email To register, contact Susie at 310-229-9000, ext. 200 or email