A letter to the Editor in the Jewish Star paper was written by a local.. Rabbi Lichtman of Far Rockaway. The good Rabbi indicates that the Vaad is operating outside of its authority in this whole Gourmet Glatt mess.
To the Editor:
Recently, the Vaad of the Five Towns removed their Kashrus Certification from the Gourmet Glatt Emporium Supermarket in Cedarhurst. The owners engaged the services of Rabbi Yehuda Kravitz and his staff of mashgichim to provide the Kashrus Supervision and Certification under the K-1 agency.
Some Rabbis of the Vaad have been advising their congregants not to patronize the Gourmet Glatt Emporium as a sign of solidarity with the Vaad, and indeed, business is down. There have been Rabbonic pronouncements and exhortations in the local print media to “follow the Vaad”- though no rationalization for their position is offered. No responsible person has ever suggested that the Kashrus at Gourmet Glatt is compromised in any way, or that the supervision of Rabbi Kravitz is in any way inferior to that of the Vaad.
The community at large is left with the choice of “marching with the Vaad” or shopping where they please, kashrus not being the issue. Now, I enjoy the personal friendship of many of the local Rabbonim, and there is no question as to the integrity of all of the Vaad membership. However, and with all due respect, I must state that they have committed a grave error, and it remains for the community to extricate them from this predicament.
It is beyond the scope of the Vaad’s mandate to deal with anything other than Kashrus. It is beneath the dignity of the Rabbonim to dictate to storekeepers on political grounds. It is the role of the Rabbis to serve the community and advance their interests. Without a doubt, the community is better off with a variety of kosher stores to shop at, and to the competitive advantage of the consumer. The community cannot abide a Vaad that is political, that acts arbitrarily and capriciously, and that is autocratic and unreasonable. The present situation is harmful to an important business in the Five Towns, and will discourage other businesses from venturing here. But it also threatens the future of the Vaad, which may lose its credibility, as people come to understand what has really transpired here.
The owners of Gourmet Glatt have indicated their readiness to meet the requirements of the Vaad for the reinstatement of their certification. This should be pursued and brought to a satisfactory resolution expeditiously! Perhaps if the Vaad saw that the community continues to patronize Gourmet Glatt and relies on Rabbi Kravitz and the kashrus supervision of the K-1 agency, they would have the incentive to act and rectify their mistake.
To those who read these remarks, I ask you that you not be distracted by the question “Who is Rabbi Lichtman anyway?”, but rather, heed my words, and respond with fairmindedness and good-will-in the spirit that these remarks were made and with courage and good sense.
RABBI YECHEZKEL LICHTMAN Far Rockaway