Let My People Go...and eat Orthodox Union Certified Haagen Dazs!
Dear Israeli Chief Rabbinate Representative: Your recent decision to pull the kosher certification of a product that is under the supervision of the Orthodox Union leaves many of us kosher-caring North American immigrants here quite bewildered. There are many aspects of this decision that require a sufficient explanation from your organization, one which you have thus far failed to provide. "Love Gd more than ice cream", which a representative of your organization was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying, is quite a shallow and insufficient answer. The Orthodox Union (OU) is not a fly-by-night, phantom kosher supervisory organization. The OU is a household name and icon for more than half a million Jews throughout the United States of America and many more kosher-caring people worldwide. This is an organization that has been around for over one hundred years. This organization has been playing a leading role in kosher supervision throughout the world a lot longer than the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has. This is an organization that is staffed with Rabbis who are both well versed in Jewish laws and tradition, as well as with the process of food production in the modern world. Your decision to dishonor an OU supervised product is a serious insult to the more than half a million Kosher-caring Jews throughout the US, Canada, and many thousands of others throughout the world who value, respect, and voluntarily rely on the OU brand. The OU has decided, based on Rav Moshe Feinstein’s ruling, to permit this milk. (Please see below for a more elaborate explanation of his ruling, courtesy of the Orthodox Union). The OU is an organization that on its own merit, not through government intervention, has earned the trust and respect of a majority of kosher-caring consumers throughout the United States and the world. With this decision, you are showing complete disregard towards these Rabbis and their followers, and this cannot, and will not, be tolerated by us. On top of this, please think about how many lives you turned upside down by making such a spontaneous and careless decision. Think about all the people involved in the food chain here. From the people delivering the product, to the people marketing the product, to the little market down the street selling it, all these people probably took some major losses here. It’s not like we are talking about pork! We are talking about a product that has a very reputable kosher supervision. You could have said “This is relying on a leniency that we're uncomfortable with, we would like to move in a direction of not relying on it, and we therefore want to give people time to implement this decision.” Instead, you declare it forbidden immediately, and any store selling it faces monetary penalties. It doesn't cost anything to be considerate, and it probably cost many people their jobs and livelihoods because you did not care about being considerate. You need to be a lot more responsible then this. You need to acknowledge that your organization has erred greatly with this ruling, and must reverse it immediately. You need to remember that you are the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel, and your organization needs to be more attentive to the concerns of those affected by your decisions. Do you represent those of us here in Israel who care about kosher, and who don’t have an automatic knee jerk reaction to be more stringent when it is not necessary? Whether you reverse this decision or not will decide the answer to this question. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- (From an article on the OU website about halacha issues related to kosher milk) In a famous series of teshuvos (Igros Moshe YD 1:47-49), Rav Moshe Feinstein argues that all milk in the US has the halachic status of cholov Yisroel, as the government inspects all dairy factories to assure that there is no milk from non-kosher species, and the dairy companies therefore have fear (“mirsas”) of being caught and penalized. Thus, we are certain that their milk is 100% from cows and is fully free of adulteration with milk from non-kosher species. This certainty is considered to be virtual halachic witnessing – ”anan sahadei” – and it thereby fulfills the requirements of cholov Yisroel, being halachically equivalent to the Jew actually observing the milk being processed. Reb Moshe was far from the first Posek to rule leniently on such milk (see Chazon Ish YD 41:4), but his lengthy teshuvos are the most elaborate on the topic. Although Reb Moshe states that a ba’al nefesh – one who can take stringencies upon himself – should consume only cholov Yisroel in the traditional sense, he clearly rules that all domestic milk meets cholov Yisroel requirements.