Yes, Bubba, It’s a Jewish Plot

In an unintentionally amusing video being e-mailed around, a large-boned, jowly man with a droopy mustache and hair parted down the middle sits at a desk and reveals a secret scam that Jews have been levying on unsuspecting Gentiles for years. Behind him hang an American flag and a banner featuring a large swastika.

The short “program” is billed as “White Nationalist News” and our trusty correspondent is identified as “Mich Bubba.” Heavy metal guitar introduces and ends the spot; the refrain of the tune (so to speak) is “Tricky, Tricky Yid”.

The conspiracy Mr. Bubba proudly exposes is the “Jewish tax” that hides in plain sight from unsuspecting non-Jews in secret code on food packaging. Long familiar to Hebrews of traditional bent, the various kosher symbols (the popular “u” inscribed in an “o” that is a trademark of the Orthodox Union – which Bubba calls the “United Rabbinical Council” – as well as myriad graphic riffs on the letter “k”) are indications that the product so marked was produced under the supervision of a rabbi expert in the intricacies of both kosher law and food science. Bubba hews to the belief that such foods are simply “blessed by a rabbi” and identifies one product as carrying a second sinister rabbinical group’s certification – “parve” – which he pronounces “parVEY” (French rabbis, probably).

In his essential point, of course, Bubba’s right. Companies do indeed pay for kosher certification.

As they also do, of course, for the right to display, say, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval (for which manufacturers must purchase advertisement space in Good Housekeeping magazine). Or as they indirectly do through increased manufacturing costs for the right to call their products “organic” or “natural.” To Bubba, however, the Jewish arrangement is singularly unkosher; it smacks, to his fuzzy lights, of a Jewish “shakedown.” If companies pay for a rabbi’s service, he unreasons, the cost must surely be passed on… secretly, of course… to “Gentile” consumers.

The risible accusation is nothing new; it resurfaces almost every time logic-challenged anti-Semites manage to catch their breath between rants on the Middle-East and “Jewish control of the media.” As to inconvenient facts, The New York Times reported in 1975 that the cost to General Foods for rabbinical supervision of its “Bird’s Eye” products worked out to .0000065 of a cent per item. A Heinz Company representative maintained that its own kosher labeling actually decreases the cost of items, by increasing the market for them – the only rational reason, of course, a company would choose to pay for such a service in the first place.

Nor is Bubba compelled to buy one brand of corndogs or beer over another. If the kosher item in fact proves more expensive, he can simply opt for one that hasn’t been supervised by a rabbi (which, he makes quite clear, he prefers in any event).

If there is anything Jew-haters don’t like, though (besides Jews), it is having to deal with pesky facts. There are more important things to do, like sowing hatred and suspicion.

Most folks even loosely connected to reality know that there are no Elders of Zion (at least none who aspire to world control), and no Jews who murder Christians to mix their blood into matzohs, that such things are (forgive me) Bubba-meisehs. And yet, millions keep even those myths alive (not to mention create new ones, like Jewish recruitment of Arab innocents to fly planes into buildings). So it should hardly be surprising that there are people accusing us Jews of less obvious, more insidious crimes… like kosher certification.

The persistence, ubiquity and sheer creativity of anti-Semitism rightfully concern us. But there is also something curiously invigorating about it all.

Because it points to what underlies Jew-hatred: the suspicion that the Jewish people are special.

However odd it might seem of G-d, He did indeed choose the Jews. In other words, yes, Bubba, there is a plot (though not exactly a conspiracy; there’s only one Plotter).

But Bubba needn’t panic. What anti-Semites like him don’t realize is that the Jewish mission isn’t to subjugate but to educate. Keep it under your hat, Bubba, but what we Jews are charged with is living lives of holiness and service to G-d and man.

That includes prayer, charity and acts of kindness, study of holy texts and meticulous honesty in all our dealings – as well as a multitude of ritual matters, including eating kosher food. But no, Bubba, undermining society and levying hidden taxes aren’t on the list.

One day, G-d willing – likely when we Jews shoulder our mission with more passion and determination – those who labor so hard to hate us will suddenly be stopped cold in their tracks and made to meet a reality they never considered: that Jewish specialness was never a threat to them at all, but a gift.

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39 comments to Yes, Bubba, It’s a Jewish Plot

  • Bob Miller

    If Bubba would eat more kosher food, his thought process would sharpen up.

  • Ahron

    The existence of antisemites, and their nearly ubiquitous attendant paranoia, is old hat by this point in history. But it seems appropriate to note here Herman Wouk’s compelling note in his deservedly classic book This is my God:

    “It is this. Deep in the heart of both critical Christian and alienated Jew, there is a–I cannot say what, a feeling, a shadow of a notion, nothing no more substantial than the pointless but compelling impulse to knock on wood when one talks of the health of children–something that says there is more to the Jews than meets the eye. There is a mystery about the Jews. This mystery makes the very word “Jew” a sure shocker on the stage. Because of this mystery many readers will come to this book and read it through, disagreeing, it may be, with every line of it, but pressing forward to find some light on the puzzle. And within this mystery lies the reason for the folk pride of the house of Abraham…the defiant proud old answer of Jewry to the yellow badge of the ghetto.”

    Here on our stage of real life, that fleeting, intangible, ungraspable mystery–perhaps felt a bit less sharply in our desensitized contemporary hours–retains its almost inexplicable powers to intrigue, engage, provoke, attract and–in the worst cases as noted above–dement.

    Perhaps antisemites are truly more sensitive to the mystery of Jewish existence–or perhaps they are simply of poorer and more pathological character than their more stable and decent countrymen?

  • Avigdor

    in 1975 that the cost to General Foods for rabbinical supervision of its “Bird’s Eye” products worked out to .0000065 of a cent per item.

    Yes, but that was in 1975. With inflation, it is probably close to .00001 of a cent by now. : )

  • Ephraim

    I’m glad that Nazi wannabes are so stupid. If that’s our competition, we have nothing to worry about.

  • DMZ

    I’m seeing something of an unfortunate trend by more liberal Orthodox Jews to bash the kashrus industry because of its supposed greed and “keeping standards so high they’re way beyond what halacha requires”. We really need to do some education inside our own communities, unfortunately.

  • Nachum Lamm

    Ben Hecht: “If I write truthfully of American anti-Semitism, I must put down that I have found it, on the whole, either pleasing or stimulating. It is pleasing to be disliked by obvious fools, and it is stimulating to knock such dunderheads off their perches, even if nowhere else than in one’s own soul.”

    The rest of the passage is not as cheery, though.

  • Benjamin

    DMZ, I hear you, but the unfortunate fact is that there is a disturbing amount of politics that goes into the kashrut industry, not to ention certification of food items that are acceptable to eat without certification. Also, I do understand that there are costs associated with certification, but there are times when the prices are higher than necessary because the certifiers can charge that much.

    I’m not saying it’s everywhere always, but many problems do exist within the industry, and it should be our job to monitor and stop those.

    This is, of course, totally ignoring the fact that kashrut organizations have refuse to take aveirot related to proper treatment of workers and preventing tza’ar ba’alei chaim into consideration when certifying but have no problem taking Shabbat-related offenses into consideration. You can claim that you only certify the kashrut and not other working conditions, but then you shouldn’t be judging other aveirot at all. Either a product of an aveirah is asur or it is mutar. Problems to be fixed (shout-out to the Conservative movement, I think, for at least claiming to be in the process of beginning to start supervising and giving a “tzedek hechsher” to organizations)…

  • SM

    Of course the article is correct about Bubba, but am I the only person out there who finds the last 6 paragraphs almost unbearably smug? In the last few months this blog has covered our own prejudices, unequal treatment of each other, violence and stupidity. Are we sure that we want to go on about how special we are and how the gentile world should be grateful for that?
    I’m not saying for a moment that we don’t have things to celebrate and be proud of. I am saying that criticising soft targets whilst we have genuine problems of our own doesn’t begin to justify what I read above.
    A test: Yermiyahu arrives in our communities today. Does he write that post, or does he focus on the things that WE have to take responsibility for in our own lives?
    Saying that we are wonderful compared to pond-life like Bubba doesn;t mean enough to justify the paean of praise to ourselves I have just read. Another test: the Bishop of a city in Pakistan was in my (Orthodox) shul on Shabbat. He has persuaded his Muslim colleagues to assist him in visiting a Jewish community in the hope that he can teach them about us – given their geographic location they can’t do it themselves. Now read the last 6 paragraphs in the light of our knowledge of our own difficulties. I don’t think it sounds so good anymore.
    Sorry to be mean, but less self-congratulation and more self-examination please.

  • mordechai

    reply to Benjamin about certifying those items that do not require a hechsher. I recollect once hearing from Rabbi B. Levy z’l (senior Levy and founder of OK) that he was approached by a producer of aluminum foil who wanted a hechsher – even after he explained that it certainly does not require one. They wanted one anyway – for the marketing (surprise, surprise)!

  • Yaakov Menken

    Mordechai is correct. A Kashrut certification is a recognized symbol of quality — at one point Fujifilm put an (unauthorized) OU symbol on their film packaging. It is a business decision. Domino knows that sugar needs no hechsher and (surprise) pays a lot less per package than Empire chicken, but they decided for their own reasons that it was worth getting certified.

    I’m not sure on what basis Benjamin accuses the Kosher certification companies of not being concerned with workers or tza’ar ba’alei chaim. PETA’s accusations aside, there is no evidence that kosher slaughter is, overall, any less humane than found elsewhere. It is a lot easier to detect a “Shabbat-related offense,” of course, and when one is detected it means production was going on when no supervision could be done — which is directly related to the kashrut certification itself. It’s hardly unrelated as Benjamin implies.

  • yoelb

    As far as treatment of workers goes, Benjamin may be referring to this: http://www.forward.com/articles/in-iowa-meat-plant-kosher-‘jungle’-breeds-fea/. and http://www.forward.com/articles/conservative-rabbis-pledge-groundbreaking-system-f/

    The San Jose Mercury News quoted Rabbi Genack of the OU: “It’s not that we don’t care about those issues, but we rely on the federal government,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator for the OU’s kashrut division. He noted that agencies such as the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety & Health Administration already keep watch on workers’ pay and working conditions.

    “We don’t want to impose more on those companies than are required by law,” Genack said.

    Having been a mashgiach myself, it seems to me that kashrut certification generally involves asking companies to do more than is required by state and federal law in order to comply with halacha.

    With regards to working conditions, wages and benefits:

    If halacha in these areas is stricter than state or federal law, should complicance with halacha be required for kosher certification, or would Rabbi Genack’s principle still apply?

    Clearly, if state and federal law are stricter than halacha in a given situation, they must be complied with; but if a company is not in compliance, but keeps kosher adequately, what about its kosher certification?

    In other words, should a company’s business practices should, to coin a phrase, be kosher before the company gets a hechsher for its food products?

    Also, PETA was not saying that kosher slaughter is intrinsically less humant. They were saying–and provided videotapes of incidents that showed this– that a particular facility was not following published norms of kosher slaughter, in ways that were inhumane.

    The OU decided that these bad acts did not meet the threshold for lifting the hechsher.

    As Shmarya Rosenberg says: (http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/kosher_meat_scandal/index.html)

    “Ripping the throats out of live animals with a meat hook – a process Rabbi Genack defended as 100% kosher – is far from 100% clearly kosher, yet the OU sanctioned it. Why? Money. Making sure employees of kosher plants and the animals they slaughter are both (not to equate the two) treated humanely will raise the cost of kosher meat, which will drop sales. Rabbi Genack himself says: [quoting the second of the Forward articles]

    ‘Genack also said that a major priority for the Orthodox Union was to make kosher food more widely available. “For us to set up a new amorphous standard in certain plants,” Genack said, “parts of the kosher industry are very fragile and could be adversely affected by this.”’

    In other words, your Orthodox rabbis are willing to ignore tzaar ba’alei hayyim law and all the halakhot surrounding the treatment of employees so you can buy (relatively) cheap kosher beef.”

    His language is intemperate but as far as I can see his points are well taken.

  • DMZ

    “DMZ, I hear you, but the unfortunate fact is that there is a disturbing amount of politics that goes into the kashrut industry, not to ention certification of food items that are acceptable to eat without certification. Also, I do understand that there are costs associated with certification, but there are times when the prices are higher than necessary because the certifiers can charge that much.”

    Yes, but the problem I see is the people “raising the hue and cry” don’t have any first-hand knowledge of what they talk about, only what they’ve “read on the internet”. They also tend to use this as an excuse to eat food without hechsherim that really should have them (baked goods from non-kosher bakeries, eating “vegan” at non-kosher restaurants).

    Of course, the kashrus industry needs some improvement. It’s hard to find an industry that doesn’t. But I’ve found the problems are blown out of proportion and exaggerated by folks with an agenda of their own to push.

  • JoeCool

    Mordechai is wrong. R’ Levy is not founder of OK. It was found in 1935 by Abraham Goldstein, R’ Levy didn’t take over until 1968.

  • Charles B. Hall

    If a company mistreats its workers, say, by not paying them on time (which would seem to be a violation of the Noachide prohibition of theft), does it make the food they produce treif?

    Regarding Shabat violations: Don’t most of the large companies that are supervised by the major kashrut agencies run their production lines on Shabat?

  • L.Oberstein

    When I was growing up in Alabama in the 1950′s there was a retired Admiral John G. Cromelin , who ran in every election. His platform was the “Communist – Jewish Conspiracy”. He never won, but he did get some votes. Anti- semitism is out there, but we don’t notice it when times are good.

  • DMZ

    “If a company mistreats its workers, say, by not paying them on time (which would seem to be a violation of the Noachide prohibition of theft), does it make the food they produce treif?”

    Is there actually any source for doing this? I’ve seen a lot of allegations here that “traife business practices make for traife food”, yet not actually seen anyone quote a real source for it. I’ve not seen any sourcing for when halacha is stricter than local labor laws, either, I may add. If someone’s got a specific complaint, bring it up, but let’s stick away from vague allegations.

    I’d also point out that all the “worker protection” mechanisms people are clamoring for would only raise the cost of certified products, and probably lead to some of them not getting certified at all. Then, everyone would start complaining that the high cost of kosher food keeping people from keeping kosher.

    If you want better labor laws, go vote for them. Making the kashrus organization the decider of such things when they have absolutely no expertise in the field is silly. I like the C movement’s idea of certifying places for their labor practices (something of a mehadrin idea, maybe), but I think making it a pre-req for kashrus certification isn’t a good idea.

    (However, I would certainly say that certifying agencies need to make sure that workers are being treated in accordance with the law of the land, at the very least.)

  • yoelb

    DMZ, is what you’re saying that if it’s in Yoreh Deah our standards of, say, “no meat/no dairy” need to be followed when they’re stricter than the FDA’s but if it’s in Choshen Mishpat and the gov’t standards are lower than the halacha requires that’s just fine, and shouldn’t affect kashrut?

  • DMZ

    “DMZ, is what you’re saying that if it’s in Yoreh Deah our standards of, say, “no meat/no dairy” need to be followed when they’re stricter than the FDA’s but if it’s in Choshen Mishpat and the gov’t standards are lower than the halacha requires that’s just fine, and shouldn’t affect kashrut?”

    Yes, that’s basically what I’m saying – because Choshen Mishpat has nothing to do with Yoreh Deah, and the certifying agency isn’t an expert (presumably) in Choshen Mishpat, either. If you can cite me a source that bad labor practices can make food non-kosher, I would happily be willing to revise my opinion accordingly, if necessary.

    Or: keeping choshen mishpat doesn’t rely on me keeping yoreh deah, or vica versa.

  • Ori Pomerantz

    Yoelb: DMZ, is what you’re saying that if it’s in Yoreh Deah our standards of, say, “no meat/no dairy” need to be followed when they’re stricter than the FDA’s but if it’s in Choshen Mishpat and the gov’t standards are lower than the halacha requires that’s just fine, and shouldn’t affect kashrut?

    Ori: Why is food different from anything else? If we are forbidden to eat food from companies that violate business Halacha, shouldn’t we also be forbidden to use other products from such companies? 150 years ago, when cotton was mostly raised by slaves, was it forbidden to wear it? Do we need a Hechsher when we buy a car, for example?

    I think the mishnaic expression is “Ein laDavar Sof” – there is no end to this. While it is admirable to want to refuse to do business with companies that violate workers’ rights, that is not the same thing as Kashrut (neither is the FDA – the FDA is about health standards).

    Maybe there is a business opportunity for an organization that gave a seal of approval regarding workers’ rights, like the BBB does for customer relations. However, that is separate from Kashrut.

  • Larry Lennhoff

    A Kashrut certification is a recognized symbol of quality—at one point Fujifilm put an (unauthorized) OU symbol on their film packaging. It is a business decision. Domino knows that sugar needs no hechsher and (surprise) pays a lot less per package than Empire chicken, but they decided for their own reasons that it was worth getting certified.

    That’s nice, but their reasons are not our reasons. IMO the OU and other major agencies should refuse to certify products that do not require certification for reasons of lifnei ever (as Jews who see a hechsher on sugar come to think it is required) and to make a kiddush hashem by showing that Jews not only take kashrut seriously, but take the laws of theft seriously and won’t sell an unecessary service.

  • Jacob Haller

    Mordeachai’s comment (#9) can be supported by one I heard from an office a major kashrus organization who was approached by a major laundry detergent manufacturer. He wanted a Hechsher on his product because he discovered that the presence of “beef tallow” in his product might make some consumers jittery over buying it and wanted to allay the fears. After being told there was nothing technically to worry about (pagum b’taam, batel b’shishim etc) he STILL wanted it!

  • Eliot

    “Maybe there is a business opportunity for an organization that gave a seal of approval regarding workers’ rights, like the BBB does for customer relations. However, that is separate from Kashrut.”

    Additionally, why limit this only to food? It seems to me that anything a Jew buys should be produced in accordance with halacha vis-a-vis worker treatment, TzLB”Ch, Tikkun Olam, and the like: the houses we live in, furniture we own, cars we drive, etc.

    There is good reason to assert that these factors should render a product ossur/mutar. I do not see any reason to be so selective in their application.

  • Bob Miller

    Somehow, I think our supervisory organizations already have their hands full policing basic kashrus. If other considerations about products are really important to them, consumers should accept personal responsibility, investigate, and then pose their related halachic questions to Poskim in the normal way before they buy.

  • DMZ

    “That’s nice, but their reasons are not our reasons.”

    Please refrain from speaking for “us”, especially when you don’t. Personally, I think if the certifying agency explains the situation honestly, and the company wants a hashgacha anyways, they should be given one. After all, it’s not like it’s untrue – the product is indeed kosher.

    As for lifnei ever (“placing a stumbling block before the blind” – eg, misleading someone) and theft, you’ve got to be joking. First, as to lifnei ever, the OU has ALWAYS been clear that certain things don’t require a hechsher – including on their website. Ignorance of halacha is not the OU’s problem to solve. Second, there’s no theft in a transaction where both parties fully understand the deal being made. Maybe you think it’s un-necessary, but clearly these companies feel otherwise. In any event, the cost of certification on these unnecessary hechsherim is less than a prutah per item anyways, so you’d have no right to complain as an end-user even if in some warped halachic sense you were stolen from (you weren’t, by the way).

    There is a lot of misinformation being spread about the true costs of kashrus certification. Seriously, when’s the last time something got certification (even a necessary one!) and it actually resulted in a significant price increase? Some folks are pushing the impression that I’d be spending half as much as I do on food if the evil kashrus industry was totally reformed, but I’ve never seen any actual proof of what that certification costs my wallet.

  • Baruch Horowitz

    The Conservative Movement is interested in health and safety concerns which are social issues, and fit in well with a humanistic-based Judaism, that uses the concept of tikkun olam as advancing social causes. The social issues are important no matter what one’s ideology is. Rabbi Breuer has emphasized, for example, “glatt yoher”(honesty) as part of Torah Judaism, and this brings honor to the Torah.

    Hashgachos are not just on the kashrus of food. The OU has threatened to remove a hashgacha from a restaurant which would allow Jews to celebrate a Millennium party, if I correctly recall. I know of a catering hall (without an hashgacha) that will allow parties with mixed dancing, saying that the kashrus is only on the food; most hashgachas, however, will not allow this.

    Yet, as Rabbi Genack points out, there are cases where the issues are amorphous, and the strength of kashrus may be weakened by turning a hashgacha into a certification of social issues. I would draw the line at a situation where the owner was warned and didn’t make improvements for gross violations. The OU and the Conservative groups should work with Agriprocessors to investigate and make any necessary changes which Agriprocessors’ critics allege are necessary.

  • Eliot

    “The OU has threatened to remove a hashgacha from a restaurant which would allow Jews to celebrate a Millennium party, if I correctly recall. ”

    You recall incorrectly. That story was the BaDa”Tz of Jerusalem refusing certification of hotel caterers hosting “Sylvester” parties.

    “The OU and the Conservative groups should work with Agriprocessors to investigate and make any necessary changes which Agriprocessors’ critics allege are necessary.”

    It is interesting to note that this entire “Tzeded Hekhsher” project began as a result of the reporting in the Forward concerning AP and working conditions for plant personnel. The article in question brings numerous assertions of management malfeasance via-a-vis worker treatment but brings no evidence to support them; opting instead for an anonymous source or, in laymans terms, hearsay.

    The Conservative movement has seized upon this faulty reporting, hardening by means of repetition into “fact” requiring immediate action. It is small wonder that the O-U is resisting this cynical attempt to be railroaded into supporting this project; they recognize this is an attempt by the Conservative movement to burnish their halachic credentials. These credentials are in serious need of rehabilitation now in the wake of the movement’s complete abandonment of principle on the gay issue. What better issue to exploit for such rehabilitation than a “social justice” claim that any modern thinking individual can support.

    If the O-U eventually decides to address the “Tzedek Hekhsher” issue, and I think they should, they will do so on their own terms only and not be influenced by exploitative pressures from heterodox movements.

  • yoelb

    DMZ, Ori, would you want to eat meat shechted by someone who wasn’t shomer Shabbos? What about teachers?

    Would it be a halachic issue if they would be, for a hypothetical instance, thieves or drug dealers?

    Do we say that oh, he’s just a felon, a beit din hasn’t ruled against him?

    I’ve done hashgacha, and I can tell you that it really helps if you can trust the people who work in a business. If someone wears the uniform what laws can he violate before you shouldn’t trust him?

  • yoelb

    Eliot, the OU’s policy for restaurants and caterers of course requires that the establishment observe laws of modesty. According to http://program.ouradio.org/kosher/koshertidbits_schreier.mp3, this was market driven. Perhaps the market is beginning to drive the OU to look at Choshen Mishpat issues as well as Yoreh Deah and Orach Chaim.

  • DMZ

    “DMZ, Ori, would you want to eat meat shechted by someone who wasn’t shomer Shabbos? What about teachers?”

    This is kind of an interesting example, because I was under the impression that for shechita, there WERE actual halachos about the shochet needing to keep Shabbos and such, not just peripheral associations. Have I been mislead?

    As for trust, there are well-defined laws in halacha for establishing that – see the laws of witnesses, for example. As far as I can tell, you are actually proposing to go BEYOND what halacha requires, and into the realm of Western ethics and sensibilities. While there’s something good to be said for those, mixing halacha into it is a bad idea, and will only lead to more whining about kashrus agencies being more stringent than they have to be.

  • Ori Pomerantz

    yoelb: Ori, would you want to eat meat shechted by someone who wasn’t shomer Shabbos? What about teachers?

    Ori: No. The Shochet’s actions directly impact Kashrut in a way that makes it necessary for him (could it be her?) to be somebody a Beit Din would trust as a witness.

    However, that is a special case. Would you have a problem with eating the meat of a chicken raised by thieves and drug dealers? I guess they could surgically implant the chicken with pieces of bacon, but that is far fetched.

    yoelb: I’ve done hashgacha, and I can tell you that it really helps if you can trust the people who work in a business. If someone wears the uniform what laws can he violate before you shouldn’t trust him?

    Ori: If they are criminals who violate the law of the land, you can report them to the police. If they are Jews who violate Halacha, while claiming to be Orthodox, you know they are dishonest. If they are chiloni Jews, things are more complicated (a Chiloni Jew can be honest in his or her business dealings while eating bacon cheeseburgers on Yom Kippur).

    However, if a gentile or a Chiloni Jew obeys the laws of the land, but not the Halachic Choshen Mishpat, that is not a sign of dishonesty – merely of different standards. It does not mean that they cannot be trusted to keep Kashrut commitment in their business.

  • Nachum

    Actually, the OU is acting on it, just not as publically as the Conservatives are.

  • Eliot

    “the OU’s policy for restaurants and caterers of course requires that the establishment observe laws of modesty.”

    Modesty, yes. No “Sylvester”, not necessarily. That story was specifically linked to the Jerusalem Rabbinate (not the BaDa”Tz, my bad). And, as the latter link shows, the market did demand some serious contortions on the part of the Rabbanut despite their stated “social engineering” policy.

  • Jacob Haller

    Baruch Horowitz wrote

    “and fit in well with a humanistic-based Judaism, that uses the concept of tikkun olam as advancing social causes.”

    Could you kindly define these terms?

  • Bob Miller

    In some circles today, tikkun olam refers to any favored social/political cause, whether motivated by Judaism or by something else, even by something else that opposes Judaism. The recasting of Jewish catch phrases and ideas and even holidays to have altogether new meanings is a weapon long used by non-Orthodox Jewish ideologues, including socialists and secular humanists.

    That said, real Judaism does have its own social justice program. We ought to find practical, halachically sound ways to encourage proper Jewish behavior by Jewish manufacturers, processors, and suppliers of essential goods we buy (and suppliers of services, too). Whatever we do along these lines also has to be legal in the country we live in.

    But before we send the OU or any other organization down this road, we need to arrive at a consensus about our specific goals. Today, that consensus and broad sense of community may be lacking.

  • Jacob Haller

    “But before we send the OU or any other organization down this road, we need to arrive at a consensus about our specific goals. Today, that consensus and broad sense of community may be lacking.”

    Can’t help but wonder if the resulting vacuum allows those preaching ersatz Torah find a way in and capture the imagination of those less familiar with the genuine article.

  • Baruch Horowitz

    “You recall incorrectly. That story was the BaDa”Tz of Jerusalem refusing certification of hotel caterers hosting “Sylvester” parties.”

    Eliot,

    I am pretty certain that the OU, as well, forced a New York restaurant to stop a Millenium party for Jews, and that this was reported in the news.

    “Could you kindly define these terms?”

    Jacob,

    As Bob said, there is a concept of social justice and concern with humanity within Judaism, but it can be divorced from the Torah.

    In general, and unrelated to the question of linking kashrus supervision to social issues or how to work with or allay the concerns of the interested parties in the Agriprocssers issue, there are extremes on both ends. The more liberal one goes in the various Jewish streams, the more emphasis is given on the social justice aspect of the Torah, because it is something which people can relate to. However, it can be divorced from belief in the divinity of the Torah.

    The opposite extreme is complete insularity. Within Orthodoxy, for example, there are those such as Rav Hirch who would argue that isolation is not an ideal Jewish concept, and is merely a response to anti-Semitism. Other, more insular, communities might feel that Orthodoxy’s limited resources preclude an over-involvement in the world at large. Instead, for the most part, we need to be concerned about our own community, and improve the world, indirectly, in that way.

    This issue was discussed previously on the Darfur thread, and some felt that Jews should not be at the forefront of this issue, if the task could be accomplished by others. Nevertheless, an article in the Jewish Observer stated that one must be concerned and pained about the situation, and also that there was benefit in having some Torah Jews attend rallies, even if the community did not do this on a whole.

  • Bob Miller

    I’m ambivalent about grand pronouncements by Jewish organizations advocating solutions to other people’s problems. Even when the solutions offered have merit, I can’t help but think that we should first put our own house in order, to become a true demonstration of the way we want the world to be. Readers of Cross-Currents have seen example after example showing that our nation (everywhere) and our state need to be fixed.

  • Leib

    After watching the ‘amusing video’ about kosher tax I was still left worried. Just imagine people watching the video contacting food manufacturers for information and receiving the reply that indeed they paid the kosher tax. Would not some companies be concerned that their products will not be chosen by antisemites or by the people upset at companies for paying money to some religious organizations? What if they choose to terminate their relationships with Kashruth rganizations?

  • One Christian's perspective

    I am truly sad for the “Bubba’s” of this world who chose to blind hatred over eyes to see the goodness of G-d in others.

    I for one an truly grateful to the Jewish people who were given the priviledge of preserving G-d’s very own Words which they did faithfully and now gentiles can read it and see the glory,power and grace of G-d. Additionally, years ago, I was delivered 10 weeks early before NICU’s were even a glimmer in someone’s thoughts by a Jewish doctor who also was responsible for my care. He gave my parents a 50/50 shot that I would survive. Other than a few allergies, I have survived well and in the Lord. And so I praise G-d who brought a kind, wise, discerning Jewish doctor into my life when I needed him most and who even became my family practice doctor even into adulthood. I know this sounds a bit like one-stop shopping – it was ! – but G-d used this wonderful Jewish man for my good. He was a wonderful caring and very wise doctor who used his G-d given wisdom to help many gentiles in his practice and he displayed an even greater sense of humor. I still remember those laughs long after he retired.

    In Bible Study yesterday, one of our study questions was “What is your attitude toward the Jewish people”? The answers were so heart warming and came one after another without pause that the discussion leader had to rein us in so that we could cover the other lesson questions in the time alloted. One particular touching testimony was from an elderly black grand mother who said: “growing up in the Carolinas people of my complexion were not hired and couldn’t find jobs. I can’t say enough about the Jewish people because it was one Jewish man who hired me and showered me kindness,care and concern for years when many others in my community chose not to”.

    Thank you all and G-d bless you all !