A Look at the Hechsher – OU Israel

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oul.jpgFor me, one who grew up in the East Coast of the United States, OU was synonymous with ‘kosher’, but not just kosher, a level of kashrut that could be trusted, synonymous with transparency, legitimacy, and a genuine concern for the kosher consumer.

When the news began unfolding a number of years ago that the OU existed in the Holy Land, it brought a smile to the faces of many a former N. American, realizing this premier kashrus organization would without a doubt remove the complexities of the Israeli kashrus scene, permitting us to sit back and relax, entering an OU restaurant or hotel and enjoy Israel’s finest cuisine with the knowledge the kosher standard was among the highest available.

That is how I began this report about 3 months ago, optimistic, and admittedly somewhat excited, armed with my pen, pad and digital camera, I set out to show the world what the OU is bringing to Eretz Yisrael.

To my dismay, what I found was not exactly what I expected. There is no kashrus transparency, no written or published standard, and no friendly voice on the other end of the phone to explain the complexities of the kashrus situation. I cannot really say what the standard is, but what I can do is to relay facts, the findings of many many hours in the street, photographing, speaking with mashgichim in the industry, checking eateries and hotels, and of course, speaking and meeting with the head of the OU in Israel, Rabbi Yosef Minsky, and his assistant, Rachel Stewart. I will add that the OU-Israel kosher certificates displayed in hotels do not even all contain the name of a mashgiach or mefakaiach to call, as is evident from the photos accompanying this article. 

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I BEGIN WITH SOME TERMINOLOGY & HARD FACTS:

Firstly, one must understand some of the basic ins-and-outs of kashrus in Israel, in this case, pertaining to the Jerusalem Rabbinical Council. There are two levels of kashrus, ‘regular’ and ‘mehadrin’, with the later ensuring a higher standard, one that should be commensurate with many many stringencies that permit the food for people adhering to a high standard.

This includes proficient inspection of fish, greens and legumes for insects and bugs, prohibiting the use of many items including but not limited to strawberries, other berries, certain cuts of meat, and the certainty that the milk, vegetables, foods and other items are not the result of chilul shabbos. It also means there is a mashgiach timidi (a rabbinical kashrut inspector) present while the kitchen operates. Yes, this is all an over simplification, but I am trying to give a general overview and not get bogged down in defining the difference between regular and mehadrin).

In a regular kashrut environment, a mashgiach pops in from time to time (yotzei v’nichnas), not necessarily daily, and the level of kashrut adherence in the kitchen is inferior to the mehadrin.

The Jerusalem Rabbinate employs mashgichim, as well as a mefakaiach (supervisor) who is not assigned to a special store, but goes to a number of places supervising his subordinates, the mashgichim.
 
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OU-ISRAEL:

Sometime ago, prior to embarking on this article, I spoke with Rabbi Yosef Minsky to get an idea of what OU-Israel brings the kosher consumer. He explained that being that we are in the Holy Land, the level is higher than in the United States, guaranteeing chalav yisrael, bishul yisrael, and regarding shmitah, only l’chumra. He told me in many a conversation that the level of OU-Israel adheres to the strictest standards, cutting no corners, making certain Americans and Israelis alike can enjoy, well-assured the level of kosher is among the highest in the industry. It is pertinent to the article to insert at this point that on numerous occasions, Rav Minsky added that he views the OU among the premier agencies, like Eida Chareidit, making sure to insert he is operating on a higher level than Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin. This was repeated and stressed on numerous occasions.

I emphasize that I am not making any judgments as to the level of kashrus, but I will use this forum to present facts, and perhaps to express a level of frustration I have not known in dealing with any other kashrus agencies in Israel.

As you, readers are aware, I do not generally write about kashrus agencies as an independent unit in a feature article, but events sort of compel that I attempt to document many isolated incidents into a cohesive report. One of the reasons is the fact that JKN is an English forum, thereby attracting many former and current Americans, resulting in many a query regarding OU-Israel.

I strongly suggest that email recipients take the time to view the article online, where photos accompany the documentation.
 
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MORIAH CLASSIC HOTEL:

The Moriah Classic Hotel, formally the Novetell, is one of the Jerusalem Hotels under the supervision of OU-Israel. It also enjoys the supervision of the Jerusalem Rabbinate, regular, not mehadrin.

I will spare you hours of phone calls and investigatory efforts and cut to the chase. The hotel rav and mashgiach, Rabbi Elyashiv Nafcha, will attest to the fact that there is no OU mashgiach in reality, even though the certificate, which is not posted conspicuously as per Rabbi Nafcha’s decision, stated the mashgiach is Rabbi Eliezer Mendelson. Rabbi Nafcha runs quite the legitimate show, which I will detail in an upcoming report on the hotel. Bottom line, the OU relies on a non-mehadrin Rabbanut hechsher for its OU mehadrin hechsher. In reality, the hotel ingredients are mehadrin but that is not the point.

JKN phoned the OU-Israel office and we were assured the hotel is under its supervision and mehadrin, “not like the Eida Chareidit, but like the Belz and other regular mehadrin hechshers”.

In short, you the kosher consumer are visiting a non-mehadrin hotel and eating, believing an OU mehadrin mashgiach is there. Sorry folks, but this is simply not the case.
 
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JERUSALEM PLAZA HOTEL:

The Jerusalem Plaza Hotel is under the supervision the Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin, and OU-Israel. Once again, the hotel mashgiach, Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Altman is the rav and chief mashgiach. As veteran readers know, I am a fan, impressed with the kashrut standard maintained by this senior veteran mashgiach. In this case too, he explains, the OU mashgiach, guess who — Rabbi Eliezer Mendelson, is not really in control of kashrus. Here again, it appears the OU relies on the Rabbanut mashgiach to cover itself.

I will point out that Rabbi Mendelson is a member of Rabbi Altman’s staff, one of his mashgichim. When I asked the Jerusalem Rabbinate if they are bothered by this conflict of interests, I was told that officially, Mendelson is a “representative” of the Rabbinate and an “employee” of the Plaza, so no problem.

Anyway, here too the OU-Israel enjoys the zealous efforts of the hotel rav and comfortably adds its kashrut sign, but in reality, Rabbi Mendelson does not make any decisions regarding what foods are purchased, used, and so-forth. Rabbi Altman runs the kashrut show here.
 
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MOSHIKO SHWARMA:

Once again, Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin and OU-Israel. As you may remember from a previous report, the Rabbinate mashgiach is present for about 8 hours daily, and the Rabbinate supervisor (mefakaiach) visits several times a week. The OU Mefakaiach, Rabbi Avraham Turetzky told JKN that he relies on the Rabbanut mashgichim and visits from “time-to-time”.

Here I must point out that while the J. Rabbinate Mehadrin seems to be doing its job, the OU office has told me repeatedly its standard is higher than the Rabbanut Mehadrin and it does not rely on the mehadrin hechsher at all. It appears Rabbi Turetzky is unaware of this policy decision since he does indeed rely on the J. Rabbinate mashgiach timidi.
 
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JERUSALEM GATE HOTEL:

You guessed it, Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin and Rabbi Turetzky as supervisor. In truth, all my investigations show the hotel runs just fine, but again, due to the credit of the Jerusalem Rabbinate with the OU taking a free ride. By the way, R’ Turetzky’s name, or anyone else for that matter, does not appear on the certificate.

I will use this opportunity to add that all my phone calls reveal Rabbi Turetzky is a serious G-d fearing Rav, one who take kashrus seriously. In addition to his demanding kashrus positions, he also serves as an employee of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, where he works in their Givat Shaul, Jerusalem, office during the afternoon hours. The point, once again, the hotel relies on the Jerusalem Rabbinate, which the OU office degrades, but in essence, it maintains the level of kashrus.

Here again, as in the case of R’ Mendelson, R’ Turetzky is the hotel rav/mashgiach for the J. Rabbinate, and the OU.

I think it is also noteworthy to add that one who relies on OU for eating out and possibly less comfortable with the Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin, in the overwhelming majority of cases, you are eating the Rabbanut schita, not OU meat or chickens.
 
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TAIKU:

Located on Emek Refaim Street in the German Colony, this fine eatery is becoming increasingly popular, it recently decided to leave the Agudat Yisrael supervision and move to the OU [see previous reports]. Since that time, I have contacted the mashgiach twice by phone and made three unannounced visits. Sorry, but he was never on site. This does not say there are kashrus problems, but this is not exactly what is meant by “mashgiach timidi”.

I use this opportunity to add that in violation of state law, the OU has granted a certificate of kashrut to this restaurant despite the fact that it does not have a Jerusalem Rabbinate hechsher. The same was true under Agudat Yisrael as per the Jerusalem Religious Council Kashrut Department.
 
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PAPAGAIO:

This is without a doubt the new excitement on the N. American Jerusalem eating scene. Since moving from Jerusalem Rabbinate regular to OU after Tisha B’Av, it has been standing room only. This branch, the only mehadrin branch of Papagaio is located at 3 Yad Charutzim Street in the Talpiot area of Jerusalem.

This story is a bit longer, even the abridged version — 
I saw the full page color ad in the weekend J. Post, and decided I will call to make an appointment and visit, to write up the restaurant. As is my custom, I phoned to request permission to interview the mashgiach and tour the kitchen. The restaurant was more than pleased to comply, as is always the case – realizing the potential for free media exposure. I arrived at 10:45am, 15 minutes early, using the time to take photos.

Arriving early permits me some time to check out a place before a formal interview begins; something that helps me assess the situation. In this case too, I did just that and I saw an impressive place, a Brazilian steakhouse busy with the daily getting-the-day-started mode, setting tables, preparing the salads, meats and other foods for the 12 noon opening. The prices displayed on the menu were extremely reasonable considering the ambiance and general feel of the place.

I introduced myself to the branch manager, Yaniv, who actually as a central casting figure for the part, shaven head and quite suave in appearance, the type of chap one would expect operating such a fine eatery. I learned from him there are seven stores in Israel, 5 with regular rabbinate supervision in other cities, one not kosher and open shabbos, and this branch, under the OU for only a number of days. I did not know they just moved from Jerusalem Rabbinate regular to the OU, but that is not relevant either. (The J. Rabbinate certificate was not on display so I could not know. I did check with the office of the J. Rabbinate a number of days later).

By any definition of the word, the restaurant is an impressive steakhouse, and it is not difficult to understand why the reservation phone is ringing off the hook since it announced its OU-Israel hechsher.

Anyway, everyone was there except for Shaul Ben-Shachar, the mashgiach. I was given his cellular number and we spoke, and it appears no one informed him of the meeting. Anyway, he was apologetic and we agreed I would wait an hour for him to arrive. To speed up the story, after waiting about 40 minutes, Yaniv informed me that he spoke with Rabbi Y. Minsky (head of the OU-Israel) and he informed Yaniv that I may not enter the kitchen without him being present. I was asked to leave – a request that I accommodated, somewhat frustrated and angry, but I do not get into arguments over entering a kitchen. By law, no one has to grant me access since I have no state-given authority, only a press card.

For those who remember the recent updated photo report on Emek Refaim area restaurants, that report was prompted by this chain of events. I had already wasted too much time, and was perturbed. Rather than bus it back to the center of town, I walked, passing through the German Colony, using the time to photograph the stores for the updated report.

After cooling down a bit I decided to phone Rabbi Minsky to confirm that he actually gave the order barring me from the Papagaio kitchen. He confirmed the facts. After about 15 minutes on the phone I realized the conversation was not heading anywhere and tried to end it. The rabbi pointed out I am not a rabbi, or kashrut expert, to which I agreed, but I pointed out I am quite proficient in documenting facts and have enough learning under my belt and on-site experience to do just that. I also explained I was not seeking kashrut inadequacies, but just to relay the facts to readers as I have been doing for the past 2.5 years.

When Rabbi Minsky realized I was fed up with his shenanigans, telling him I planned to boycott the OU-Israel in future reports to avoid repeated confrontations, he changed his tone and explained that he did not realize I was the correspondent at Papagaio, but feared it was someone else who might just be seeking to give the OU a bad name. We agreed that I would telephone and come in to meet with him to talk, which I have not yet done. Quite honestly, I do not see any benefit in such meeting and blei neder, I have no intention of re-visiting Papagaio today or any other day in the future.

I spoke with the Jerusalem Rabbinate to see if Papagio has a certificate, since only the OU-Israel certificate is displayed. I learned it has a Jerusalem Rabbinate regular hechsher and the mashgiach is R’ Avi Levy, who is on duty 3 hours daily, usually during the afternoon.

R’ Levy told me that R’ Ben-Shachar [the OU-Israel mashgiach] is on duty from 8:30am “every day” and makes certain the kitchen never operates without a mashgiach present. He assured me that the kitchen NEVER operates without one of the three mashgichim present, not even during the early-morning setting up hours.

I can only say on the one occasion I popped in, this was not the case. Meats and poultry were being marinated, the grill was lit before my eyes, salads cut and much more was taking place, without a mashgiach present. There is also a third mashgiach beginning at 5:00pm until midnight R’ Levy told me, also under OU-Israel auspices.  (I was unable to get his name).

R’ Levy told me the meat was OU and the chicken Fleish (OU-Israel also). R’ Ben-Shachar said meat was Agudah and poultry Fleish).

Before moving on, I pose a question here for both the J. Rabbinate and OU-Israel — Those viewing the photos accompanying this article can see the well-stocked Papagaio bar. Well, I sent the photos to a Rabbanut expert on hard drinks and he told me that two items are “problematic” and one is definitely dairy.

My question is what is a dairy liquor doing in a meat restaurant and I ask the OU, what is a “problematic” drink doing in a mehadrin restaurant? Especially since OU America is a leader in raising awareness to the possible kashrut problems related to hard drinks. 
 
 
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AGAS VETAPUACH:

Agas VeTapuach is a high-end operation, dairy/parve, located at Kikar Safra, Jerusalem City Hall.

In short, I spoke with Yonatan, the owner/manager and the Jerusalem Rabbinate. The place is under the supervision of Jerusalem Rabbinate regular and OU-Israel mehadrin. The supervisor is R’ Turetzky, and the J. Rabbinate mashgiach comes and goes, as is fine in compliance with the dictates of a regular J. Rabbinate supervision. There is not OU-Israel mashgiach, only a supervisor who makes occasional visits. In short, this OU-Mehadrin place does not have any mashgiach timidi.

Yonatan assures me all his products are “badatz mehadrin and chalav yisrael”.
 
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SUMMATION:

1- There are numerous other OU-Israel supervised hotels, eateries and caterers in the Greater Jerusalem area. I do not plan to visit or review them. This is not because of kashrut concerns, but due to the lack of cooperation from OU-Israel office staff and the smokescreen that results in some of my questions.

2- This report does not intend to hint at the level of kashrut in any of the places mentioned, for good or G-d forbid otherwise, regarding the OU. I have reported on some of the places, such as the Jerusalem Plaza and Moshiko, and they indeed are true to their J. Rabbinate hechsher. The OU-Israel adds absolutely nothing other than a red and white sign.

3- If one is stringent on eating OU schita (beef and poultry) when entering an OU establishment, think again in Israel. Not all places use Fleish chickens and to date, the OU has not succeeded in having its own cattle schita despite efforts to do so. Therefore, if a mashgiach in Jerusalem tells you the meat is “OU”, it may be OU-Israel approved, which is fine, but it cannot be OU-Israel schita since to date, there has not been any.

4- If you expect a mashgiach timidi in your OU mehadrin restaurant, then you are out of luck in some cases.

5- Based on what I saw at Papagaio, the kitchen operating without a mashgiach, it is difficult to say if OU-Israel satisfies ‘bishul yisrael’ for sephardim, which hold by the stringent rulings of the Beit Yosef. Rav Minsky assures me all OU-Israel establishments are bishul yisrael for both ashkenazim and sephardim.

6- There are many many emails that have come in regarding OU chickens, sold under the Fleish name. I mention this so readers do not think I have ignored this. I just prefer not to address the matter at this time.

7- Without exception! Any and every hotel mashgiach and rav I spoke with, referring to hotels that the OU-Israel has claimed to be under its supervision, at least three, maintain the OU-Israel has not added a thing towards mehadrin level kashrus and it appears the organization is taking a free ride off the services of the J. Rabbinate hechsher, both regular and mehadrin, as well as the reputations of the fine rabbonim and mashgichim in those very same hotels.

(Yechiel Spira – Jerusalem Kosher News – photos on website – www.jerusalemkoshernews.com)




20 COMMENTS

  1. BIG NEWS FLASH FOR THE AUTHOR:
    I myself contacted the OU in America and inquired about the OU in Israel. They told me that it is the same organization, and that their kosher standards are exactly the same. They also said that whenever and wherever you are, and you see the OU symbol, it is their organization giving their approval to the product or restaurant. So you now have a big problem to deal with. If you have a problem with the OU in Israel then you have a problem with the OU organization in general. It has nothing to do with the country you are in, according to the OU them self.

  2. Something is quite fishy here.

    I am wondering why the ‘ivestigator’ didn’t contact the main office of OU Kosher in NY & present this info to Rabbi Genack as well as to Rabbi Elefant. I have a strong feeling if they were presented with this info, they would be on the next flight to EY for a major pow wow.

    Don’t take the OU lightly. I am sure this will be looked into and addressed accordingly. Lets wait and see what the result will be.

  3. Stop expecting everything under the sun to be kosher. It is our responsibility as consumers to make sure where we eat and the products we buy are kosher.

    If your expecting the OU or whomever to be what we want them to be, it is inever going to happen.

    The kosher industry is a multi billion dollar market and as long as everyone with a yarmulkeh gets their hands in the business and mixes in and calls themselves “experts”, we as consumers just get more confused as to whom we can trust.

    Another point I would like to add is that every organization has it’s problems. I could not care less who the organization is because they ALL have problems. Even the holy badaatz which people swear by has had many major violations and cover ups. I have seen things with my own eyes that shocked me.

    If consumers would only be educated……..

    This is not the forum for exposing anything but I can only tell you it is OUR responsibility to make sure the foods we put in our mouth are kosher.

    At a chasunah about 25 years ago, one rosh yeshiva got up and asked all the other roshei yeshivos sitting at the table who the mashgiach is and whos hechsher is the food from and all the roshei yeshivos looked at each other in silenece. One roshei yeshivah actually said everyone else is eating here there has to be one person that asked so we are sure there is no problems!

    Go to any chasunah today, do we really know who is in the kitchen and what is going on in the kitchen? Does the mashgiach know what he is doing or is he just a guy with a yarmulkeh watching?

    Does the mashgiach have the guts to throw out 4,000 dollars worth of food if there is a kashrus problem? Does the mashgiach have the guts to ask a shailoh if something comes up? (I ask the same question on hotels)

    A rosh yeshiva once told me that it is sometimes more important to know who the mashgiach is on the particular products than the symbol on the package.

    I always laugh when people walk around saying chasidishe hechsherim are better or the OU is better than xyz. Do you think g-d asks us after 120 years if we ate chasidishe products? What is “chasidishe” products when they actually rely 99% of the time on other organizations? We pay more just for buying a label with 6 hechsherim with rabnim signatures on the priduct when 99% of the time they never stepped foot into the plant they are giving the hashgicha on! (THIS IS FACT)

    All the big kashrus organizations rely on each other in different ways and as long as money is the ikur with these companies nothing will change for the better.

    It’s a few years since the meat scandal and all the organizations swore to us they are going to make things better, stricter, fool proof with everything from meats to vegetables we buy.

    NOTHING TO THIS DAY has changed. Last year the Hamodia magazine had an exclusive expose on what has changed and no big shocker now but NOTHING HAS CHANGED and most rabanim even admitted it publicly in the Hamodia magazine.

    I eat products only based on who the mashgiach is for the products that I buy. If you trust the mashgiach you can trust the food.

    Do we just eat in any home? So why do we eat any product that has a symbol?

    The COR in Canada has the best system. The COR puts a number code next to the symbol. Any consumer can just call the COR and give them the number next to the “COR” and that number represents who the mashgiach is so if you have any questions you can always call the mashgiach. There is a bit of tranparency there and the COR does not hide anything and they are glad when people care and ask shailos.

    If your going to generalize about a kashrus organiztion then you can’t eat anything!

    From being in the field I find that most people have no clue about anything and only repeat what they think they know or hear from the street.

    I have heard many “choshoveh” rabanim speak about certain products without having facts.

    A few years ago many rabanim spoke about a product and said it is no good to use on pesach and I questioned these few rabanim who had an agenda and when they told me they even know who the mashgiach is but they refused to tell me who it was even though they were looking at him!

    We need total oversight if consumers really want change. We can write 1000 pages on what is right and what is wrong and this is not the forum and we do not have the time to go into detail and expose what is really going on behind the scenes.

    Kashrus has come a long way but there is still alot of work which needs to be done.

    In America the two things that have actually been stale for a very long time is kashrish and chinuch.

    I just threw out a few things for people to ponder.

    Mr. Menachem Lubinsky once stated that the only ones that can change things are consumers.

    Will things ever change? Do we want change or do we just want to complain and let the “others” do the changing for us?

  4. I called a senior member of the OU who lives in Israel, and he told me that its not the same as American OU, and that he himself doesnt eat the Irael OU.
    I also called Rav Belsky in America about the OU chickens in Israel(Fleish), at first he told me that they’re very good and can be eaten without a doubt. I then asked him about a problem that I saw (and also the senior member of OU who I had spoken to told me to call Rav Belsky about this problem) and he told me he’ll have to get back to me because it might be a serious problem. So as of now I don’t eat OU Israel.

  5. I had my own little surprise at the Jerusalem Gate about three years ago.
    We had a nice fruit platter, on a china plate and served with a knife, waiting in our room when we arrived. The utensils were a match to the dairy dishes and flatware in the dining rooms.
    I asked the mashgiach – but what about all the non-Jewish guests? They could be bringing back outside food, such as meats or cheese, and using the hotel’s utensils to cut and serve their snacks.
    His answer was that his supervisors said it was ok, anything the guests ate in their rooms was not really hot, and then it all goes back in the dishwasher. That’s not very reassuring. And most likely, they give the same fruit platters to the guests who take rooms with microwave ovens.

  6. Why don’t you do an “Investigative Report” on the Eida Charedis Hashgacha? I would bet that you would honstly find problems with them too. It’s interesting that the more Charedishe Hashgachas are always problem free.

  7. It’s Standard Operating Procedures among hashgochos to rely on each other. It operates as follows. If you see four hechsherim on one item there are not four mashgichim at the plant. Rather each hechsher will ask the mashgiach that is already there on behalf of any of the hashgochos about the standards being used at that particular place. If the standard meets the second parties requirements, it will place its approval on the plant using their own name. Therefore, the fact that the OU didn’t have their own personal mashgiach at the plant isn’t meaningful al long their standards were being met (which in this article seems to be the general case).

    The statement “The OU-Israel adds absolutely nothing other than a red and white sign.” is misleading. It adds the basic point that the standards used meet, not just Rabbanut standards, but also OU standards, something a Rabbanut hechsher would not indicate to the consumer.

    The problems seem to be more with regard to a lack of a mashgiach in places that claim hashgocho tmidi and places that in fact don’t adhere to claimed oU standards.

  8. It seems that people are quoting contradictory information if OU Israel and US are the same standards or not. I think the simple answer is that both are correct. The OU Israel is the same organization and nominally follows the same psakim from the same Rabbonim as in the US. However the big difference is in the practical follow through on the policy. In the US the OU is a huge structured institution with multiple layers of administration and approximately 60 Rabbonim HaMachshirim (called RCs) each specializing in a specific area of kashrus. OU Israel has none of this, it is a one-man-show. As talented as the Rav may be, he must take responsibility for wines, canned goods, candy restaurants and hotels single-handedly. Also, no one reviews his policy decisions on a daily basis.
    So while they are one unit legally and in theory, they may be worlds apart in practical kashrus.

  9. #6: the daughter of a patient in Shaare Zedek mentioned this same issue to me some time ago. She said she saw Arabs bringing in their own food and eating it with the hospital’s utensils. We spoke about it some, and she decided to speak to the hospital’s rav about it.

    Note that this woman wasn’t even (outwardly) shomer mitzvos, nor was her father…! In Jerusalem, you can never know who are really careful with things like shabbos and kashrus – I know some people who look like seculars but are more careful with shabbos and kashrus than many chareidim are.

  10. Have OU America remove their hechsher from Israel if it is not up to standards. Put a few full page ads in every Jewish Paper and by next week, OU ISRAEl will be on its knees looking to change.

  11. My expertise is mainly in the European countries, I have traveled there many times and “know” what goes on. The hechsher in Israel is totally seperate than the one in the U.S.

  12. I think it’s amazing that the author of this article doesn’t even post his/her name. Are we to trust someone who can’t even sign his/her name to what they write?

    Editors Note: His name is prominently signed at the bottom of the article. He puts his name behind his writing, “pnina”.

  13. The real issue here is why did the OU appoint a non-OU Rabbi to run its Israel operation. As far as I know Rav Minsky is coming from the Rabbanut (albeit mehadrin) and is clearly not familiar with OU standards and what OU consumers have come to expect. Why could they not have put an experienced OU rabbinical coordinator in charge? Rav Minsky’s predecesor, Rabbi Kuber, had years of experience in the NY office and was extremely effective in his role as head of OU Israel until he was replaced. Why was he let go? And why was a replacement not found from within the OU? There are many qualified RC’s that could have taken over, many of them already living in Israel. One name that comes to mind is Rabbi Mordechai Grunberg. Is the OU really interested in serving the kosher consumer by bringing OU standards to Israel- or is there some other agenda here??

  14. The supposed “fact” that chassideshe hechsherim rely entirely on other hechsherim is a myth In actuality it depends upon the hechsher. Those which totally rely on others should not be relied upon anyhow. The reliable ones will do very good research into the ingredient before using it.

  15. Most of the comments here come down to one thing. What are the OU standards. Even in the USA albeit the mashgichim may be sincere b’nei torah but that are still only guaranteeing the standards of the OU. Remember the OU itself is a modern orthodox organization that is trying to offer kosher for a broader range of the community than what a “heimishe” person would eat…A poor example but an example non the less is OU dairy..which doesn’t claim to be Cholov Yisroel

  16. The OU is without a doubt the #1 kosher certifier. Their staff, expertise,experience, scope and depth, “open shop” and willingness to fully disclose all they do and don’t do – cannot be matched by anyone out there, heimishe, chassidishe or yeshivishe.
    AS to OU Israel – and its very recent involvement with hotels etc. – let’s await the OU’s responses.

  17. A very interesting article and a fine piece of work by YECHIEL (in case Pinina missed it again).

    Why is it that when we pick up a can of pickles we see a Rabbanut Hechsher , a OUp and an Eidah Hechsher (Rak Liyimot Hashana). The Eidah Mashgiach is there most of the time and is not prepared to give its Pesach Hechsher. I have emailed the OU IN USA as Mark Levein #2 suggested and they told me to e mail OU Israel.

    Why is it that Rav Rubin left the OU? Again no one could give me any answer. Yechiel has given us all the answers.

    This boils down to Americans being brought up to believe ‘Lo kam Be Yisrael kmo OU’. But i am afraid to say if one is looking for Mehadrin, OU Israel aint where you gonna find it. Do any of you only eat Angels Bakery with the OU or Newmans only with OU. We were told to believe that Rav Ralbag use to allow pieces of animal in Coke and therefore the OU took it over.

    There seems to be no difference between the Bogus Mehadrin Hechshers in Jerusalem and OU Israel. Neither of them have full time Mashgichim and most the restaurants only use them to attract the Mehadrin crowd but in the end they are getting Regular Rabbanut and Possibly Rabbaunt Mehadrin.

    #2 if you think there is something fishy i suggest you refer to the last Rabbanut alert which warned everyone to stay away from OU tuna which was not approved by Regular Rabbunat as it was not bishul yisrael.

    The OU have fooled everyone from the consumer to the client that they add value. Personally , i rely on the Eidah when i enjoy Osem Products and it make no difference to me that OU is there. The only difference is to my pocket as the company will need to fund nothing more than their Marketing expense from us consumers.

  18. TO #16

    your lack of information should not be posted in this form,

    I personally know Rabbi yosef Minsky, his work and effort goes through the night hours to make sure that the consumer in Israel, should have a good and economical hecsher, as far as ou standers i believe that rabbi minsky was apointed by the OU corp in NY and has brought the OU to a new level and Rabanot rashit. we all new that one cannot see the his fellow yid succeed but unfortunate that’s y we are still in exile.