Greenfield Pushes for Glatt Kosher Standard on Rikers Island

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Councilman David G. Greenfield is working with the New York Board of Rabbis to convince the city to require a higher level of kosher certification standard when seeking a new vendor to provide kosher food in detention facilities run by the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC).

After hearing shocking stories from constituents about Orthodox Jewish inmates not being provided access to glatt kosher food, Greenfield met with Commissioner Dr. Dora Schriro and other DOC officials to discuss the situation and work on a resolution. Greenfield also wrote to Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Edna Wells Handy to request that the city follow the examples set by the State and Federal government, both of which require that kosher food served in prisons meets the certification standards followed by the majority of the Orthodox Jewish community.

“Everyone has the right to practice their religion freely and without government intrusion. This extends to those who are incarcerated in city facilities. Nobody should be forced to choose between eating and following their religious beliefs. It is exactly in challenging areas like our prison system that shows whether we are doing enough to protect an individual’s religious rights. That’s why I will continue working with the appropriate city agencies to make sure that we have glatt kosher food available for all inmates who require it in city jails,” said Greenfield.

The city currently follows a lower standard for kosher food certification that does not meet the requirements of most Orthodox Jewish individuals who are incarcerated here. This means those individuals might not eat for several days. In response, Greenfield asked DOC Commissioner Schriro and DCAS Commissioner Wells Handy to require that the winning bidder meet acceptable kosher certification standards like those outlined by the federal government. These include agencies such as Union of Orthodox Congregations (OU), Organized Kashrus Laboratories (OK), Star K, K’hal Adas Jeshurun (KAJ) and others outlined in the Federal Bureau of Prisons Religious Certified Food Products Specification Quote Sheet.

The DOC manages several jails in the five boroughs, including the famed Rikers Island. All of these facilities are temporary holding facilities for defendants who are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to one year or less in jail. More than 100,000 prisoners go through Rikers Island each year on charges ranging from relatively minor infractions to major crimes including murder.

(YWN Desk – NYC)


6 COMMENTS

  1. Very troubling to read that there is a need for kosher food at Rikers. While it’s understood that someone can be wrongfully arrested, even that should a a rarity.

  2. I agree with this article.
    I would add though, SOME criminals incarcerated there (i.e. Levy Aron) should receive other jewish standard meals, such as ‘shiurim’. A ‘kzais’ of food a meal, a ‘rvius’ of water a day etc. But, lehavdil, other mild-crime offenders should have their faith-based eating habits and traditions offered to them.

  3. stay out of prison and you’ll get glatt freely. you should have considered your holy predilictions before you went to jail. chutzpah.

  4. This article is a huge chilul Hashem. Regular kosher was good enough for our bobbes and zeides and tzadikim of years ago; let alone the criminals in NYC prison.

    Should they give the terrorists hallal super glatt too.

  5. Everyone knows that false convictions happens to a certain percent of convicts. You often hear stories of people being released years later when it was determined they were totally innocent.

    Additionally, you have people in jail who were never even convicted, pending trial, because they couldn’t afford bail or were denied bail. A number of them are acquitted at trial, yet spent time in prison despite their innocence.

  6. Rikers is a detention facility, not a prison. Most people there are not convicted criminals, and are entitled to be presumed innocent. Of course any Jew who is unfortunate enough to find himself there should have the same standard of food that he would have at home.