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Moshe Ronen  Letter 09  13-Apr-2000  Needless kosher certification
"There is also a more delicate form of extortion associated with Kashruth." Seymour E. Freedman

April 13, 2000
Moshe Ronen
National President
Canadian Jewish Congress
100 Sparks Street, Suite 650
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5B7

Telephone: (613) 233-8703
Fax:       (613) 233-8748


Moshe Ronen:

Still another variety of kosher fraud

I call to your attention yet another variety of fraud that appears to be endemic to the kosher-certification business it is the kosher certification of products that do not need kosher certification:

When a responsible Kashruth supervising agency such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations sells its hechsher to companies that actually do not require Kashruth supervision, it is the kind of abuse that degrades the prestige of Kashruth.  To do so is to be on a par with those who fleece the innocent by persuading them to purchase home appliances they really do not need.  And when such activities are perpetrated under the guise of religious observances, the crime is greatly compounded!
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 171-172.


Examples of manufacturers paying for kosher certification when their products require none

Corn Starch:
There is also a more delicate form of extortion associated with Kashruth.  [...]  For example, a company will enquire about Kashruth supervision for its product.  The truth of the matter is that this product would be acceptable even without supervision, as may be the case with window cleaning liquid, toothpicks, aspirin, corn starch, diaper detergents, etc.  The company is not informed that they can sell their product in the Kosher market without supervision.  Instead, the company is induced to purchase Kashruth supervision.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 170-171, blue emphasis added.

Canada Corn Starch, OU Canada Corn Starch, OU
Canada Corn Starch, OU


Milk, Sugar, Orange Juice, Coffee, Spices, Oatmeal:

Basic Kashrut

by Penina Taylor edited by Rabbi Yeshaiah Heiliczer

copyright 1994 Knesset HaShuvim Congregation. All rights reserved

[...]

NO CERTIFICATION NEEDED

Some products do not require certification or for some reason do not contain a mark even though they are considered kosher by competent Orthodox authorities.  SOME of these are:

  • eggs
  • cow milk bottled in the U.S. (not all agree)
  • 100% flour or sugar
  • 100% apple juice
  • 100% orange juice (not mixed fruit)
  • 100% coffee (unflavored)
  • 100% tea (herbal/flavored tea should be certified)
  • most pure spices (although McKormick and some others are certified)
  • dry beans
  • oatmeal (plain)
  • fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen, totally unprocessed)
  • Coca Cola
  • Rumford baking powder
  • M&M's


Excerpted from: www.execpc.com/~dwolfe/kashrut.html, blue emphasis added.

Although the milk below is Canadian milk, it is probable that it is indistinguishable from American milk.  Also, McCormick which is the correct spelling spices are recognized above as being kosher-certified gratuitously, and so are included here as examples of needless kosher certification.

Lucerne Skim Milk, BC Kosher

Rogers Fine Granulated Sugar, BC Kosher Rogers Fine Granulated Sugar, BC Kosher

Minute Maid Premium Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice, 100% Pure, COR 226

Old South Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice, COR 22 Old South Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice, COR 22
Old South Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice, COR 22

Maxwell House Coffee, Montreal Kosher Maxwell House Coffee, Montreal Kosher

McCormick Basil Leaves, COR 94 McCormick Curry Powder, COR 94 McCormick Oregano Leaves, COR 94 McCormick Black Pepper, COR 94 McCormick Thyme Leaves, COR 94 McCormick, COR 94

McCormick Dutch Caraway Seed, COR 94 McCormick Dill Weed, COR 94 McCormick Sage, COR 94 McCormick, COR 94

Club House Cinnamon Sticks, COR 94 Club House Cinnamon Sticks, COR 94    Club House Pumpkin Pie Spice, COR 94 Club House Ground Mace, COR 94 Club House, COR 94

Quaker Quick Oats, COR 112 Quaker Quick Oats, COR 112
Quaker Quick Oats, COR 112


Bleach, salt, pepper, vinegar:
After all [...] we don't look for Kosher diaper deodorants, or Kosher bleaches [...].  And tell me, isn't it ridiculous [...] for a group of people who want to promote Kashruth to certify salt and pepper and vinegar [...]?
Allen G. Feld, writing in the Jewish Spectator, in Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 171, blue emphasis added.

Pepper, we have already seen above, among the spices.  As for the bleach, salt, and vinegar:

Javex Bleach for Unbleachables, COR 70 Javex Bleach for Unbleachables, COR 70

Sifto table salt, COR 69 Sifto table salt, COR 69    Windsor salt, COR 92 Windsor salt, COR 92

Heinz white vinegar, COR 10 Heinz white vinegar, COR 10


Coffee, tea:
Coffee and tea are products which usually do not have other ingredients mixed into them, and therefore they are Kosher without Kashruth supervision.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 144-145.

Coffee, we have already documented above; tea is documented below.  All the kosher-certified tea that I found at home was herbal tea.  Tea is included on several exempt-from-kosher lists, although one list above exempts herbal tea from the exemption: "100% tea (herbal/flavored tea should be certified)."  My interpretation of this qualification concerning herbal tea is that it is written knowing that all pure vegetable matter (in this case intended for steeping in boiling water) is equally exempt from the need for kosher certification, but adds the weak "should be certified" qualification out of recognition of Jewish success in getting herbal teas kosher-certified:

Stash Herbal Tea, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Apple Cinnamon, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Chamomile, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Lemon Blossom, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Licorice Spice, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Mango Passionfruit, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Peppermint, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Wild Blackcurrant, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Wild Raspberry, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, Wintermint, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000 Stash Herbal Tea, New Jersey Kosher, added 19Mar2000

Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Peppermint, Star-K Kosher
Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Mandarin Orange Spice, Star-K Kosher Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Lemon Mist, Star-K Kosher Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Sleepytime, Star-K Kosher Celestial Seasonings Heral Tea, Cranberry Cove, Star-K Kosher Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Red Zinger, Star-K Kosher Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea, Star-K Kosher

Yogi Tea, Lemon-Ginger, Beverly Hills Kosher Yogi Tea, Lemon-Ginger, Beverly Hills Kosher    Yogi Tea, Cinnamon Spice, Beverly Hills Kosher


Brown sugar:
There is nothing in brown sugar that is in violation of the Passover laws.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 147, blue emphasis added.

Rogers Demerara Style Brown Sugar, BC Kosher Rogers Sugar, BC Kosher


Ice cream:

It would appear that at one time, the idea of kosher-certifying ice cream seemed so ridiculous that it was the subject of satire, as ridiculous as kosher-certifying snuff:


In May, 1889, Der Volksadvokat satirically accused the Chief Rabbi and the Association of preparing to place a karobka on ice cream and snuff.
Harold P. Gastwirt, Fraud, Corruption, and Holiness: The Controversy Over the Supervision of Jewish Dietary Practice in New York City 1881-1940, Kennikat Press, Port Washington N.Y. and London, 1974, p. 71, blue emphasis added.


Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream, counted by the Ukrainian Archive only under COR 95D, but certified by OU as well Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream, counted by the Ukrainian Archive only under COR 95D, but certified by OU as well Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream, counted by the Ukrainian Archive only under COR 95D, but certified by OU as well

Gelato Fresco Ice Cream, Milanese Vanilla, COR 394 Dairy Gelato Fresco Sensual Fruit Ices and Ice Cream, Caffe Latte, COR 394 Dairy, added 20Mar2000 Gelato Fresco, COR 394 Dairy

Ben & Jewrry's World's Best Vanilla Ice Cream, COR 525 Dairy, added 20Mar2000


Salt, olive oil, laundry soap:
In his analysis of the state of the rabbinate in New York in 1896, Gerson Rosenzweig, the editor of The Hebrew, accused Rabbi Drachman of giving "tens of thousands of hekhsherim."  He called Drachman "... the Dr. so and so who lives uptown and is a rabbi by their standards, but not by ours.  He took the name of Chief Rabbi and made a deal with the butchers and made himself Chief Rabbi overnight."  Rosenzweig claimed that shohatim and butchers who did not observe the Sabbath had bribed the rabbis to approve the kashrut of their meat.  One group of rabbis even had sold a hekhsher on salt to a Gentile.  [...]  He enumerated the hekhsherim which, according to him, they had given on salt, olive oil, soap for washing clothes, and stove polish, and which had been advertised in the Jewish Times, published by Dr. Wechsler, one of the founders of the Council.
Harold P. Gastwirt, Fraud, Corruption, and Holiness: The Controversy Over the Supervision of Jewish Dietary Practice in New York City 1881-1940, Kennikat Press, Port Washington N.Y. and London, 1974, pp. 82-83, blue emphasis added.

Salt, we have already documented above, and olive oil and laundry soap are documented below:

Bertolli Extra Light Pure Olive Oil, OU Bertoli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, OU Cortina Olive Oil, OU Cortina and Bertolli Olive Oil, OU

Sunlight Detergent, COR 31 Sunlight Detergent, COR 31    Tide Ultra, With Bleach, COR 57 Tide Ultra, With Bleach, COR 57

Tide Ultra Laundry Detergent, OU Tide Ultra Laundry Detergent, Free of Dyes and Perfumes, OU Tide Ultra Laundry Detergent, Free of Dyes and Perfumes or not, OU


Milk, chocolate, tea:
Wechsler's activities were the first glaring example of clear-cut fraud concerning kashrut supervision in New York.  P. Cowen, the editor of The American Hebrew, launched a campaign to expose Wechsler.  According to Cowen, Wechsler had promised various businessmen that he could influence Jewish consumers to buy their products.  In return for supposed supervision, the businessmen paid a fee which also covered the cost of advertising their products in Wechsler's paper.  Cowen accused Wechsler of collecting $100 from a seltzer company for advertising their product as "Kosher Vichy and Seltzer."  He charged a milk dealer in Brooklyn fifty dollars for guaranteeing that the Council would approve his milk for the Jews of Brooklyn.  Wechsler promised to send the dealer 5,000 "kosher labels" for his milk.  He solicited advertisements for kitchen utensils by advising his clients that every Passover the Jews threw out all crockery and glassware used during the year and purchased new dishes for the holiday.  A chocolate company was convinced by Wechsler that the Council was ready to certify its product as kosher since the ingredients contained no fat.  To a tea company he issued labels certifying that the tea was kosher and packed under his supervision.
Harold P. Gastwirt, Fraud, Corruption, and Holiness: The Controversy Over the Supervision of Jewish Dietary Practice in New York City 1881-1940, Kennikat Press, Port Washington N.Y. and London, 1974, pp. 83-84, blue emphasis added.

Milk and tea, we have already documented above; chocolate is documented below:

Hershey Chipits, COR 68-D Hershey Chipits, COR 68-D


Plastic snack bags, plastic food wrap, aluminum foil, scouring pads, dishwasher detergent, dish detergent, bathroom cleaner:

In this section, I place some kosher-certified products that I did not find on anybody's exempt-from-kosher list, but in my estimation only because any listmaker would have considered them so obviously exempt-from-kosher that they did not need to be placed on a list:

Safeway Snack Bags, OU Safeway Snack Bags, OU

Dow Handi-Wrap, OU Dow Handi-Wrap, OU

Alcan Aluminum Foil, COR 63 Alcan Aluminum Foil, COR 63

3M Scotch Brite Scouring Pads, OU 3M Scotch Brite Scouring Pads, OU    Cascade Dishwasher Detergent, OU Cascade Dishwasher Detergent, OU

Ivory Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, OU Ivory Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, OU

Ivory Liquid, Original Scent, COR 57 Ivory Liquid, Original Scent, COR 57

Mr. Clean All Purpose, OU Mr. Clean All Purpose, OU    Mr. Clean Lemon Fresh, COR 57, added 27Mar2000 Mr. Clean Lemon Fresh, COR 57, added 27Mar2000


How to get rid of anti-Semitism

The above examples of needless kosher certification are far from exhaustive.  They emerge from the overlap of a small number of exempt-from-kosher lists that I came across in my brief research, and kosher-certified products that I discovered in my house over the past four months.  As even my limited research produces a number of such exempt-from-kosher and yet kosher-certified products, it is plausible to suppose that any more thorough research would turn up a much larger number.

And now to summarize the issues that I have raised with you so far:

15Mar2000:  Three questions concerning kosher labelling.  The public is not informed of the magnitude of earnings of Jewish groups from the kosher certification business, or of the cost to the consumer.  The extent of kosher labelling is hidden from the public through the use of uninformative labels, suggesting that these labels are not used to attract purchasers, but rather must be disguised in order to avoid triggering a boycott.

22Mar2000:  Is Jewish ritual slaughter inhumane?  Jewish groups defend the Jewish tradition of subjecting animals to needless pain, and the consumer is denied information concerning whether the meat he buys comes from humane or inhumane slaughter.

23Mar2000:  Is kosher labelling a variant of a pyramid scheme?  It is proposed that the kosher labelling business is a variant of a pyramid scheme which threatens to attach itself parasitically to the entire world economy.

24Mar2000:  Selling pie in the sky when you die, and other methodological weaknesses.  Promotional claims made by the kosher labelling business are undermined by methodological weaknesses, the chief of which is that the claim that kosher labelling increases sales cannot be substantiated.

25Mar2000:  The fallacy that higher volume lowers costs.  Money tending not to materialize out of thin air, the defense that fees paid to the kosher-labelling business do not come out of anybody's pocket is possibly false.

26Mar2000:  Does kosher certification promote industrial espionage?  Given the fraud and corruption that has traditionally plagued the kosher-certification business, it seems imprudent to place into its hands secret formulas and the contents of supply contracts.

27Mar2000:  Income from denial of kosher certification?  The unverifiable claim that kosher certification increases sales can be given an air of plausibility only by denying or withdrawing certification from one product while granting it to a competing product an air of plausibility which necessarily vanishes as kosher certification spreads to engulf the entire economy.

28Mar2000:  Kosher status misrepresentation.  The kosher consumer is poorly served because many kosher-certified products are not kosher.  The non-kosher consumer is poorly served because he pays a Jewish kosher tax without being aware of it, and is denied the right to avoid purchasing meat that has been slaughtered using avoidable cruelty.

13Apr2000:  Needless kosher certification.  The present letter argues that the proliferation of kosher labels on products that do not need kosher certification leaves the impression of a kosher business driven more by greed than by religious principle.

Unless you are able to answer the charges listed above, you invite widespread public indignation directed at the kosher business, and you invite further the public misperception that kosher fraud is being perpetrated by Jews collectively, rather than by a small number of irresponsible Jewish leaders who claim to act on behalf of Jews, but who in reality line their own pockets at the expense of Jews and non-Jews alike, and whose power only grows with the anti-Semitism that they themselves incite.  The fault of the Jewish people collectively is not the greater fault of participating in kosher fraud, but only the lesser fault of electing and tolerating leaders who do.

With these insights in mind, the question of how to get rid of anti-Semitism finds an obvious answer.




Lubomyr Prytulak


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