When I first heard about reports that the Conservative movement was forming a commission to investigate Kasrut, my first reaction was to think about their other recent announcement. “UH-OH gay cow Alert” But after a quick email to the Jewish Week’s Stewart Ain, I was assured that it had nothing to do with homosexuality in kosher farm animals. Actually some of the things they are looking at seem to make some sense to me. Adding a certification to food that already had a Hecksher that will certify that the food was produced without being abusive to the plants workers. Of course, I am not a Rabbi nor do I play one on TV, but I would love to hear from some Rabbis of any flavor of Judaism to know what you think. Excerpts of Ain’s article follows.
Rabbis Consider Workplace Certification
12/20/06 The Jewish Week
Stewart Ain – Staff Writer
….The Conservative movement revealed this week that it has established a commission to investigate reports of unsafe working conditions at the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant. Rabbi Morris Allen of Mendota Heights, Minn., chairman of the commission, said its members have visited the plant, AgriProcessors in Postville, Iowa, and are working with its owners to correct the problems.
He said also that the commission is studying the feasibility of creating what it calls a “tsedek heksher,” a certificate to attest that companies manufacturing food are doing so in a socially responsible way. “There are Jews who care about keeping kosher but who have additional requirements about the production of kosher meat,” Rabbi Allen said. “We should not be in a situation in which the way kosher food is produced is less than honorable.” Richard Lederman, director of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Public Policy and Social Action Commission, stressed that were the committee to recommend creating a new heksher, the certification would have no bearing on the way in which the food was prepared or the animal slaughtered. “We are not going to implement a new mark of kashruth,” he said. “And we will give it only to those foods that have a heksher [kosher certification] already.”
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…..Although AgriProcessors has kosher food inspectors from the Orthodox Union on the premises, they are concerned exclusively with the kosher aspects of the facility, according to Rabbi Menachem Genack, the OU’s kashruth director. “It is not that they are ignored,” he said of the safety issues and other concerns expressed by the Conservative movement. “These are areas under the purview of the federal government…..All meat factories have several USDA inspectors on the premises.” Rabbi Genack said the standards set by the Conservative movement would thus be “more stringent” and he said those standards are “not easy to define because they are subjective.” And he said environmental issues are “fraught with political implications.” [Sammy note: not that the normal kashrut process has nothing to do with politics. Boys and girls can you say “Five Towns Vaad]
This is the part that I don’t quite get
In addition to discussing work conditions at the plant, commission members also discussed how more non-glatt kosher meat could reach the market, according to Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. “Producing more of it would lower the cost to the kosher consumer,” he said. Rabbi Allen said non-glatt kosher meat had virtually disappeared from meat shelves in Minneapolis-St. Paul and that after he spoke with the management at AgriProcessors earlier in the year, it reappeared. “There is a significant price difference between glatt and non-glatt meat,” he said. “If you want people to keep kosher – and since there is no halachic [Jewish law] reason not to eat [non-glatt meat] you want to have it available. There is up to a 20 percent price differential.”
OK let me get this straight, I go to the butcher and I got to choose between regular kosher, glatt kosher, Tzadik certification, non Tzadik certification. Hey Rabbi’s this is too confusing all I want is some burgers to grill and I need a score card.