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Friday, March 23, 2007

Kashrut News Roundup

Apparently, there might be a problem with matzoh baked in a Crown Heights matzoh factory. From the NY Sun:
A handmade matzo factory in Brooklyn is facing questions over whether some of the ritual flatbread it produced is kosher enough for observant Jews to use at Passover seders. At issue is whether a former employee at Lubavitch Matzo Bakery, which each week produces thousands of pounds of round "shmura" matzo, is Jewish.

According to some rabbis, matzo used during Passover seders must be made by Jews who utter a Hebrew phrase before rolling each batch of dough. Matzo consumed at other times during the eight-day holiday need not be mixed, kneaded, rolled, or baked by Jews, according to those rabbis.

Last week, a court of Jewish law, the Beth Din of Crown Heights, ruled that while the bakery's matzo is kosher for Passover, some religious Jews should consider purchasing seder matzo elsewhere or from batches baked after the woman was laid off. Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 2.

An inquiry into the woman's religious background is ongoing, said Yitzchok Tenenbaum, who has been an owner of the Lubavitch Matzo Bakery for more than 20 years. "We told her that until we find out for sure, we couldn't have her working here," he said.
In other Kashrut news, there seems to be some sort of controversy brewing regarding the venerable Manhattan Kosher steakhouse La Marais. Someone who claims to have worked as a Mashgiach there in the past has made claims on both this site as well as this blog that the chef at the restaurant had knowingly sabotaged the Kashrut of the restaurant by putting shellfish in the food, mixing fish and meat, using strawberries which were not inspected for bugs, and using dairy margarine in place of pareve - all which was allegedly brought to attention but ignored by the OU, who provides kashrut certification for the restaurant. The OU, in turn, has put out a lengthy response to the allegations, which can be found here. The story seems to be far more convoluted than what I have put in my brief summary, so if you want more information, go read the sites.

Fun.

(HT)

43 Comments:

Blogger frumhouse said...

I think La Marais is the work of a former disgruntled mashgiach - it doesn't seem he has concrete evidence to his claims.

As far as the matza factory - oy vey! Think of all the money lost if they can't use the matzah! That could be someone's parnassah for a whole year - operating a pesach matzah factory. I hope they can sort it all out.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The OU's letter seems well-written and describes their actions well. I commend them for not bowing to what would seem to be the easy way out and choosing to take a moral route instead.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

qwqsqw


Illiegal Immigrants Require 6 Arrests to Warrant Federal Prosecution in Texas, Memo Says

3:55 PM  
Blogger Chaim said...

I think that the Le Marais mess is probably complicated. I just posted about it on my blog also. The OU's letter is very spin like. "Every thing's all kosher here, move along, nothing to see" not to mention I do remember some story about a chef at Levana and around the same time they lost the O.K. Hashgacha only to be picked up later by the OU. It's not such a stretch that it's the same Chef and everyone is denying it because of all the money they'd lose. Kashrus is a dirty dirty business and most of it is all about $$ and not Halacha.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kashrus is a dirty buisness. The head of the OK, Rabbi Don Levy used to visit every OK plant once a year (usally with an aide as well). When he took his trips, often visting numerous plants in one city, he'd charge EACH plant with 2 full roundtrip tickets! Anyone know if he still does this?

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

after the article was published, they determined that the lady was in fact jewish (her mother was) and the vaad has said that the matzos are fine for pesach.....i mentioned this story (which i found pretty amusing) to a friend of mine last week, and she laughed and said its a good thing she uses machine shmura matza, no questions there......

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Adina said...

And you wonder why the clerk at your clothing store thought it wasn't okay for religious Jews to be touched by non-Jews? Here's your reason.

Honestly, What A Racket.

10:51 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

You've all missed the point. OM's secret message was not in highlighting whether or not the lady in question was Jewish but what was she doing in the bakery in the first place? After all, with all those men prounouncing "l'shem matzot mitva" and all that heat in the oven area, how could they have a female present?

Don't they know that women belong in the kitchen, not a hot bakery?

;>)

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO YEM, tounge and cheek aside, if u have ever been in a Boro Park matzah bakery, the men handle the mixing and the baking, while the women kneed the dough and chant "Leshem matzot mitzvah:

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as it is stamped Kosher LePesach what does it matter?

http://bp1.blogger.com/_3VNxl2GAcP4/RgNIZMQs_WI/AAAAAAAAADU/Z4QAjU8JCqY/s1600-h/swakopmund2.jpg

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is regarding the subpoena and not this particular story.
I suggest you look at
http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-overview.php
as well as
http://www.eff.org/about/contact/
as they can help you fight this unwanted intrusion of privacy.

8:36 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

A BoroPark matzah bakery is not my idea of a good time experience. It's enough I have to eat it, but to make it, too?

Just kidding. I love matzot but kneading dough sounds a bit less-than-tzniusdik than necessary

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love matzot but kneading dough sounds a bit less-than-tzniusdik than necessary

But it seems that it is beneath the dignity of the men there to knead the dough

9:51 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Since I have, in my life, shoveled bovine manure, planted onions, harvested potatoes, picked bananas, helped animals drop their litter and done all sorts of "dirty" jobs, literally, let me say for myslef that no labor is below my dignity and neither should it be belwo anyone else's. It may be boring, it may be less-paying, it may be in an intolerable physical atmosphere, but dignity is psychological and no matter what Freud says, you do have control of that aspect of life.

4:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But it seems that it is beneath the dignity of the men there to knead the dough"
What century do you live in? It is because of such mentality, I meet men every day who can't tighten a screw or boil an egg (that too is beneath them), and whose wives have to do a double duty, first at work and then at home. A job is a job. If it puts food on your table then who cares what it is.
Since I was a little boy, I helped my mother to cook, clean the house, do the laundry and change my baby brother's diapers. My wife, who comes home exhausted from work, is happier for it. I run my business out of the house, and therefore it is my responsibility to take care of the house-chores as much as I can. Now I'm changing my kids' diapers. I'm more then happy to cook. And yes, I do knead the dough when it is called fore.
Like 'ymedad', I too have done many things. Any honest day's work, no matter what it is, brings dignity to a man or a woman. Those who do this work deserve respect.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the rolling of the douhg is done by women because it is beneath the dignity of the men. I think it just makes more sense logistically. The men are the ones who put the dough in and out of the oven and let me tell you, from speaking to one of these men, it's hard stuff. And many a hatzalah call is made for these men who get burned. Before we turn everything into a sexist scenario, why don't we get our facts straight.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It becomes a sexist scenario when some one states that "it is beneath men" to do a task. Kneading dough is a physically demanding task. Putting it in the oven is no great fun either.
Unless there is a religious law that states that a certain task is reserved only for a man or only for a woman, I don't see how the above statement makes any sense.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was it the men at the factory who said it was "beneath them" or was it commentary? If it was commentary...which i presume is the case...then my point above was to stop causing problems where there are none.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was it the men at the factory who said it was "beneath them" or was it commentary? If it was commentary...which i presume is the case...then my point above was to stop causing problems where there are none.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought shmura matza factory workers not only needed to be Jewish, but observant as well?

12:40 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

The Lubavitch thing - it's not a problem, according to reliable Chabad sources:

1) you only need intent "leshem mitzva" for the matzos mitzva at the seder; they're still KLP and edible the rest of the chag.

2) rolling, which this woman was doing, is not an essential step (unlike mixing or kneading); you could whack the unrolled dough into the oven and make perfectly fine matza. We just don't.

3) it's in the Ukraine. This woman has been working there for years. If there was a problem, everyone has been eating non-matzos-mitzva for years.

One of the most medakdek (on food/halacha) chabadniks I know is going to use that matza - if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for you.

The downside is that it's made in the Ukraine, so it may have sat on a ship getting damp for months. So it may be stale. But it would be kosher.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New York, NY - Le Marais Kosher Resturant 10 Mil. Law Suit Against Former Mashgiach.
New York, NY - A Manhattan kosher bistro filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against its former kashrut inspector.

The suit filed Monday by Le Marais in New York Supreme Court of Kings County charges that Isaac Bitton defamed it on 66 counts As we at VIN reported that he posted on his Web site and blog that the upscale restaurant’s chef, Mark Hennessy, deliberately sneaked non-kosher food into the kitchen and disobeyed other kashrut standards.
Bitton asserted on his site that Hennessy did so because he is a "Jew hater." The Orthodox Union covered up Hennessy’s indiscretions, according to Bitton, who worked as the restaurant’s mashgiach, or kashrut supervisor, for about two and a half years before quitting his job last week.

"The bottom line of this affair is: cowardice of a hashgachah organization scared to take action against a bully jew hater chef (because he has "dirt" on another OU establishment) even if it means to give this chef an open ticket to fool the mashgichim under their noses," Bitton wrote on his site, which he set up after quitting his job.

In a statement posted on its Web site, the Orthodox Union said it had checked out Bitton's claims assiduously but they did not stand up to scrutiny.

Still, the bistro received 20-30 calls since the Web site went online, and suffered a 30 percent slide in business over the weekend, its attorney, Richard Klass, told [JTA]

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "beneath them" comment was made by one of the posters. It was a commentary, as was my response, and has nothing to do with the topic of discussion. The idea of such sexist thinking simply upset me. I don’t' see any need to waste any more time on this comment. Let’s stick to the subject of the original post.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM...I saw you at the school board meeting last night...
...anxiously awaiting your report!

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Gilad Weinreb said...

An order to show cause was issued and a TRO was granted and now the mashgiach who is complaining must take down his blog and Google and Yahoo, etc must stop the site and the indexing.

4:03 PM  
Blogger FemaleJewishBlogger said...

Oh good. I was just about to buy some from them over the internet ( I think it was them...)

9:58 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Seems Seforim Blog has found a 16ht century proof of mixed-sex matzoh baking in the Mantua Haggada

7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://lemaraiskosher.blogspot.com/2007/03/ou-stands-firmly-behind-kashrut-at-le.html

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A NY judge cannot order Google, a CA company to remove a blog. And it is impossible to remove all indexes and references to it.

Even if the blog were removed, it would still come up in archival searches which is how many people search anyway.

Most of the bad publicity for Les Marais and the OU came from the NY Post article 3/28 that was printed as a result the suit.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NY Post did another article on 4/16. Maybe the OU will have Les Marais sue them?

Also when you do a Google on Les Marais, the cached blog still comes up. Will the OU sue Google too?

Now you know why kosher food costs so much. We have to pay for frivolous lawsuits along with the worthless supervision of bleach and raw potatoes.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am happy to know that the Constitution still applies in NY State.


KOSHER-CLASH RABBI OK'D
By BILL SANDERSON
PrintEmailDigg ItStory Bottom

April 25, 2007 -- The "rockin' rabbi" is free to speak his mind about a Manhattan steakhouse, a judge said yesterday.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Mark Portnow lifted his gag order against Isaac Bitton, a former kosher supervisor at Le Marais in Midtown, who in his youth was the drummer for a chart-topping French rock band.

Bitton, 59, quit his job at Le Marais in March and posted a blog accusing its chef of violating various laws of "kashrut." A kosher-certifying agency found the violations were inadvertent.

The owners of Le Marais plan to dro

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

When ‘dayanim’, ‘rabbis’ and false ‘mekubalim’ use the Torah for their own power and commercial profit, this behaviour is abhorrent.

No other ‘rabbi’ will ever act against another ‘rabbi’ - even when he knows his colleague is clearly desecrating the Torah. Each rabbi is only worried about losing his own position.

Therefore, the ‘rabbi’, ‘dayyan’ or false ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) will never effect justice. And he will never truly stand for the Torah or the Honour of Hashem. His pocket will always prevail.

The Torah must never be used for commercial gain and profit. Amm israel can only be lead by those who have the necessary love and respect of Hashem and the Torah.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

Any man who chooses to be a ‘rabbi’ (‘true teacher’ of Torah) or a ‘dayan’ (‘judge’), or a ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) should be doing so Voluntarily. Out of his pure love for Hashem and the Torah. And his Ahavat Yisrael.

If he refuses to do community work voluntarily, and wants and accepts payment for everything he does, such a man should not be leading a community. He should get a job and earn a living. He can collect milk bottles or clean the windows. That is what is called ‘earning a living’.

Torah is learned, studied and taught: out of Love. Voluntarily. But the ‘rabbis’ have turned the Torah into their ‘Profession’, from which they earn money.

We are commanded in the Shema to:

‘LOVE Hashem, your G-d, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your might.’

‘VE’AHAVTA et Hashem Elokecha BECHOL LEVAVECHA uvechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha.’ (Devarim, Vaethanan, 6:4-5)

Is the ordinary man or woman PAID to pray to Hashem, or to say some words of Torah? No. Has veshalom! But the rabbis are. These men can give ‘lovely’ shiurim that they have rehearsed. But they would not give a shiur without being paid for it.

The true hachamim and rabbis of old, all actually worked at proper jobs and professions.

Wake up! Even a little child could have worked this out. These salaried men can never truly stand for the Torah, because in a case of conflict between a correct course of action according to the Torah, and the rabbi or rav’s pocket – his pocket and position will always prevail.

Pirkei Avot: (2:2)
“Raban Gamliel beno shel Rabi Yehuda HaNassi omer: yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz, sheyegiat shenaihem mashkachat avon. Vechol Torah she’ein imah melacha sofa betailah ve’goreret avon. Vechol haoskim im hatzibbur yiheyu imahem leShem Shamayim……”

“Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabi Yehuda HaNassi, said: It is good to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, for working at them both drives sin from the mind. All Torah without an occupation will in the end fail and lead to sin. And let all who work for the community do so for the sake of Heaven………”

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