One of the most common observations we receive from kosher consumers is that kashrut – like many industries – is just about the money. If one kosher authority doesn’t accept another, it is because they aren’t profiting from it.
In the two decades that I have been involved in kashrut, the above observation is simply untrue. Most of the kashrut professionals that I come in contact with (and the ones that I have hired to work for Kosher Australia) are focused on assisting in getting more products kosher for consumers.
We are regularly in contact with Rabbis from the OK, OU, Chicago Rabbinical Council, Kof-K, Star-K, London Beth Din and the Rabbanut to check on ingredients and products that arrive in Australia.
In 2004, when we sent a team to Kosherfest – the main kosher trade show attended by thousands of companies, then held at the Jacob Javitz Centre in Manhattan – Rabbi Sholem Fishbane from the Chicago Rabbinical Council shared their ingredient database with us, thus enabling the start of broad-based kosher certification of Australian products. Rabbi Fishbane continues to assist us with certain policy and procedural questions.
We are indebted to Rabbi Pinchas Juravel from the Kof-K who happily keeps us up to date with how complex equipment impacts kosher setups. For example, what is a suitable clean for a dry blender, or how can Pas Yisroel be achieved at an industrial bakery without someone having to be onsite to switch the oven on each time?
We, in turn, freely share information about ingredients and methods of checking factories with Rabbis in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.
It goes without saying that we send our Pesach Guide and Pesach Medicine Guide to all requesting rabbis and doctors at no cost. We currently investigate approximately 1600 prescription medicines available in Australia each year.
Part of the kosher certification process involves checking the ingredients used.
It is rare that any product does not have ingredients kosher certified by a number of different agencies, all of which come together to make a kosher certified product.
There are, unfortunately, some rabbis or organisations who for a varying number of reasons are not considered reliable. If the issue is a lack of knowledge or technique, we have been happy to advise them where possible.
So while technically each kosher authority is a competitor, it is more like sibling rivalry, each trying to have the zechus, the merit, to be the ones that make a product kosher so that the community can benefit.