When Tzedek Isn’t: The Conservative Movement Finds a Cause


This article appears in the current issue (Winter 5772) of Dialogue Magazine.

When a Jewish religious initiative captures the imagination and garners the admiration of as broad a swath of general and Jewish media as The New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today; the Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the New York Jewish Week, Beliefnet, Forbes, the Huffington Post and NPR (among others) – it is probably prudent to regard the effort with some suspicion.

And, in the case of the enterprise known first as “Hekhsher Tzedek” and more recently as “Magen Tzedek,” such wariness would be well-deserved indeed.

Those names refer to the at-first-glance-seemingly-benign quest of a Conservative rabbi, Morris Allen, to “help assure consumers that kosher food products were produced in keeping with the highest possible Jewish ethical values and ideals for social justice.” His idea, which morphed into a full-fledged joint project of the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, is to place a special seal on already kosher-certified products, to indicate that the producer has met certain standards regarding “labor concerns, animal welfare, environmental impact, consumer issues and corporate integrity.”

Needless to say, a kashrus certifier may well have a right, and in some cases even a responsibility, to ensure that a food-producing company or food-service establishment seeking its certification hews not only to the laws of kashrus but to other requirements of Halacha. Thus, a bakery that is open on Shabbos, a slaughterhouse that violates the dictates of tza’ar ba’alei chayim, or a restaurant where tzenius is lacking would all be rightfully subject to a machshir’s rejection.

And, in fact, of no less concern to Halacha are some “social justice” issues, like ensuring proper treatment of workers or prompt payment of wages. Tellingly, though, the promoters of “Hekshsher Tzedek” seem interested in nothing but the social justice categories of extra-kashrus concerns (along with animal welfare and environmental issues). And, curiously, even those categories are applied by them exclusively to the manufacture of food. This, despite the fact that social justice concerns, halachic and otherwise, are no less applicable to manufacturers of Toyotas, washing machines, office supplies or widgets. This might seem an unimportant observation, but it is, in fact, a most significant one, as will be elaborated below.

First, though, some history.

Conceived in Sin

The Conservative rabbi who conceived of the ethical “enhancement” (his word) of kashrus was initially inspired by accusations in 2004 by “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” or PETA, of cruelty to animals at the Agriprocessors kosher meat company in Postville, Iowa; and then further impelled, by a 2006 report in the Forward that portrayed the same plant as rife with harassment, abuse and bribery. (Several years later, the reporter at the Forward who wrote that article penned an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he showed his less-than-objective colors by mocking “bearded Orthodox rabbis” who “buzzed around the Agriprocessors plant,” and called such people the “Antonin Scalias of the Jewish world” – a comment he did not intend as a compliment.)

Although after his own visit to the plant the Conservative rabbi admitted to The New York Times that “We weren’t able to verify everything” that the Forward had reported, he insisted all the same that he had discovered “indignities,” citing lower wages than those offered by unionized meatpacking plants, safety training offered only in English, and a single-option health-care plan.

Although such “abuse” seemed something less than dire, the proverbial blood was in the water. Before long, the rabbinic arm of the Conservative movement had wholeheartedly endorsed the idea of a “Justice Certification,” citing the Agriprocessors stories as evidence for such a need.

Then, in May, 2008, Agriprocessors, already enduring a harsh spotlight, was the subject of a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid during which hundreds of illegal immigrant workers were arrested. A host of accusations came from some of those in custody – from disregard of worker safety to cruelty to animals to operating a methamphetamine factory in the plant. With all the attention and charges roiling the media, Agriprocessors’ debtors insisted on immediate payment of all that was owed them, and the company entered bankruptcy.

The wilder accusations didn’t hold up to scrutiny and the immigration law violations were unceremoniously dropped. The company’s CEO, Sholom Rubashkin, was acquitted on all 67 state charges that he had knowingly employed underage workers. The only charges that stuck were those concerning Mr. Rubashkin’s misstatements to banks regarding his company’s assets, made in order to secure loans (which were regularly and promptly paid, with interest, and were unrelated to the raid). On those charges, astoundingly, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

(The compelling and deeply disturbing treatment of Mr. Rubashkin is a sad saga in its own right, deserving of a book-length exposé of the actions of prosecutors and government officials.)

Thus, Hekhsher Tzedek, it might be said, was conceived in sin – the sin of not only accepting slander but, by dint of the enterprise’s self-definition as a high-minded corrective to the Agriprocessors “scandal,” promoting slander as well.

Untruth In Advertising

Its genesis aside, though, the Conservative certification effort is misleading and, at least from a Jewish perspective, dangerous.

In the United States and other Western nations, laws are already in place to ensure proper treatment of animals, workers, consumers and the environment; ignoring any of them renders a company subject to punitive action by federal and state agencies. The principle of dina de’malchusa dina requires Jews to respect governmental law, and its violation perforce constitutes a violation of Halacha. And so, to the extent that a new “badge of approval” simply reiterates those requirements, it is superfluous.

And to the extent it goes further, it leaves the realm of Jewish religious concerns. The Conservative “ethical” certification in fact would require or favor things that are absent from both Jewish and American law. Like an unspecified number of paid vacation days, pension plans, “positive relations with unions,” “proactive efforts to have a diverse workforce,” non-mandatory environmental management systems, and much else. However nice those things may sound, or be, they have no place as the criteria for even a quasi-“hekhsher.”

Clearly, the advocates of the proposed non-heksher hekhsher, their rhetoric aside, seek not compliance with Halacha but rather to conflate Halacha with a broader social agenda of their liking.

Tellingly, in order to create the document setting down the conditions for receiving the Conservative label, its founders turned not to halachic sources but rather to a “social research” firm, KLS Research and Analytics – whose self-described mission is to effect “greater corporate accountability and, ultimately, a more just and sustainable world.”

The resulting seven pages lay down a “strict set of standards” relating to “Wages and Benefits; Employee Health and Safety/Relations/Training; Product Development; Corporate Transparency and Integrity; and Environmental Impact.” Evaluation of companies, it explains, will be based on data collected from, among other sources, “governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the media.” The final two categories would presumably include entities like PETA and the Forward.

The Name Game

As noted above, the actual symbol planned to be placed on foodstuffs and granted to dining establishments was originally called “Hekhsher Tzedek” but later changed to “Magen Tzedek.” This was presumably done in response to objections raised by Agudath Israel of America and others who pointed out that the ethical emperor was improperly dressed – that kashrus, which the word “hekhsher” clearly references, is a well-defined halachic concept, and unrelated in any real sense to ethical considerations. Ethical values, at least Jewish ones, are of course no less important halachic concerns than kashrus ones, and are indeed embodied in independent halachic mandates. But as they are something distinct from kashrus, to imply otherwise, it was objected, is to subtly but unmistakably confuse two distinct realms and attempt to “redefine” an important Jewish concept.

So the Hekhsher Tzedek Commission sought to unbake its cake and recast its initiative as not really a “hekhsher” but rather a non-kashrus-related endorsement (although, again, oddly, only for food). To reflect that recasting, it renamed the seal the “Magen Tzedek.” Somewhat later, seeming to realize that its “now it’s a hekhsher, now it’s not” approach was contradicted by other self-descriptions in its literature, it replaced the words “Kashrus for the 21st Century,” which had appeared prominently at the top of its homepage after the words “Magen Tzedek,” with the more anodyne “An Ethical Certification for Kosher Food.”

It was an improvement. Despite its birth name, the re-christened seal would skirt the kashrus issue. The certification, it now seemed, was essentially a “social justice/corporate integrity” stamp of approval, independent of Jewish law’s definitions.

Aye, but a rub remained: At the same time the new seal was being touted as limiting itself to “bring[ing] the Jewish commitment to ethics and social justice directly into the marketplace” – to, in other words, entirely non- kashrus-related concerns – Magen Tzedek was still describing itself on its website as the “gold standard of kashrus,” according to documents linked to on its website. And its goal is to “improve our consciousness, understanding and practice of kashrut by extending the definition beyond ritual [emphasis mine] to reflect ethical, environmental and social concerns.” Something is clearly rotten, it seems, in the state of definitions. An effort aimed at enhancing ethics is engaging in misleading advertising.

In the end, whatever articulation acrobatics the Conservative promoters of Magen Tzedek may engage in, what they are peddling will rightly be understood by the public as precisely what the adoring media have reported all along: a redefinition of kashrus.

Behind the Curtain

The decidedly non-kosher elephant in the room here, of course, is the fact that Conservative theology does not really embrace Halacha at all. What it embraces is hanging the word on whatever its leaders deem worthy of the shingle.

To be sure, the Conservative movement pledges allegiance to Halacha in theory but has, time and time again in a variety of contexts, sought to “accommodate” Jewish religious law to the mores and norms of contemporary American society. The movement was designed in the early twentieth century to preserve (or “conserve”) those laws with which the sensibilities of modern Jewish society could be comfortable. That approach flies in the face of the essence of Judaism – that the Written and Oral components of Torah were given by G-d to the Jewish People at Sinai; and that a specific halachic process, itself part of the Oral Torah, governs the application of the Torah’s laws. This process means that explicit verses of the Torah cannot be disregarded, and that the interpretations of the Scriptures given by the Talmudic Sages and Rishonim are incontrovertible. No movement that ignores this process and seeks instead to adjust Halacha to popular demand can be considered a legitimate expression of Judaism.

The Conservative movement has left a long trail of tamperings with Torah law, “justified” by so-called “responsa.” It has removed the mechitzah from the synagogue; permitted driving a car to Shul on Shabbos; changed the laws of niddah; and permitted its rabbis to sanction homosexual “marriage.”

And so, the Whatever Tzedek is simply the latest manifestation of Conservative leaders’ tradition of exchanging Divine mandates for contemporary constructs. Its seal is a trained one, whose neat trick isn’t balancing a ball on its nose but leading people to define Judaism as social action.

In keeping with its cavalier attitude toward Halacha, Conservatism’s religious leaders have not in recent memory, if ever, made “ritual” kashrus a priority for their constituents. Now, for the first time in its history, the movement is touting not just “kashrut” but a “beyond the letter of the law” approach to it. Quoting the Rambam, Magen Tzedek’s promoters contend that “one must be strict in their behavior and still go beyond the letter of the law—lifnim mishurat hadin.” Strangely, that hallmark of holiness (or, for that matter, even the letter of the law) is not evident in the movement’s treatment of actual kashrus, or Shabbos, or tefilla, or tzeniyus, or any other realm of Jewish observance.

Therein, of course, lies the key to the matter. Only a naïf could miss the real motivation for the Conservative front-burnering of its “Justice Certification.” It is the movement’s anxious attempt to portray itself as something other than dwindling and desperate. The movement’s loss of members over past years and the permission it extends its clergy to jettison yet another pasuk of late (this most recent one sacrificed to contemporary society’s increasing approval of “alternate lifestyles”) have left it with a well-deserved intensified Jewish identity crisis.

As Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of the New York Jewish Week, politely put it: “This [the new certification] is just the kind of moral issue that could inspire and reinvigorate Conservative Jewry, which has lost members and been divided internally for the last few years… .”

That motivation is why, according to the Magen Tzedek literature, “essential” for any company seeking to qualify for the seal will be its “willingness to enter into dialogue with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), and their partners” – the congregational and rabbinic groups, respectively, of the Conservative movement.

Whether the project has the ability, despite all else, to inspire and invigorate the movement is uncertain, to put it mildly. What is entirely clear, though, is that Magen Tzedek is in essence a politically, not religiously, motivated effort. And an illegitimate one.

The Bottom Line

As noted, the Conservative approach to Torah cavalierly disregards the basic principles of the halachic process. That being so, the Conservative movement has no right to offer rabbinic sanction for anything at all. Rabbinic certification of a product implies that it was produced in accordance with Halacha. Magen Tzedek makes no objective effort to ascertain the Torah’s position on the practices of companies it seeks to supervise; nor does it have either the commitment or the capacity to do so. Instead, Magen Tzedek’s standards are adopted from secular environmental and social justice organizations. Hence, its certification is, from an authentic Jewish perspective, meaningless.

In fact, it is something worse. Voices within the Conservative movement have in recent years objected to the “monopolization” of kashrus by the Orthodox. Were Magen Tzedek to become accepted as a rabbinic certification, even only regarding social issues, it would, in time, no doubt seek to expand its “authority” to kashrus itself.

Still and all, some Orthodox Jews see the Conservative effort as benign, a venture best just ignored, one they imagine will peter out when companies realize that few if any consumers are considering the seal when buying products. They also point out that there are already kosher products that carry, along with a reputable kashrus agency’s certification, one that declares it halal, attesting to the foods’ acceptability for observant Muslims. Why, they ask, can’t a symbol signifying adherence to labor or environmental standards be seen similarly, as extraneous to kashrus but unobjectionable?

But they miss the fundamental distinction between a halal label and the proposed Magen Tzedek. The former does not promote a false and misleading idea; it simply claims, presumably accurately, that a product meets the standards of Islam.

Magen Tzedek, however, implies that a movement that has jettisoned the very core of what Torah means has standing to declare something Jewishly acceptable. Simply, starkly put, it does not.

Torah-observant Jews should actively resist the legitimization of a false vision of Halacha. Perhaps they should even refuse to purchase products that may come to display the Conservative seal. The Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, in fact, has rendered its considered opinion that kashrus organizations should not permit their certifications to appear side-by-side with that of Magen Tzedek; for to do so would be to give an unintentional “hekhsher” to a Halacha-rejecting movement as a legitimate halachic authority.

Companies seeking to assure customers that their products are produced in accord with the most stringent contemporary standards regarding business practices and environmental responsibility have every right to do so, of course. But instead of succumbing to the blandishments of a movement-middleman falsely claiming Jewish authority they should go directly to one of the many secular groups that specialize in such matters.

No one, Orthodox or Conservative, could object to that.

To subscribe to Dialogue, please contact: editor@dialoguemagazine.org

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3 years 8 months ago

I wanted to go on record: I, Micha Berger, would be happier with a Jewish community that looked for chumeros in the same areas R’ Yisrael Salanter did. Too often we end up relying on leniencies in bein adam lachaveiro (interpersonal mitzvos) because of our pursuit of stringencies in bein adam laMaqom (those between man and the Omnipresent). There was a time when someone (even not Mussarists in particular) who wanted to complement another as being closer to the ideal Jew, they would call that person “ehrlach”. Today we use “frum”. And in that lies all the differences.

David F.
3 years 8 months ago


“Second, I have no idea how you know how these people (most of whome posting under one name or a pseudonym) feel about chumeros. But, since you raise the subject, where should be be finding places to implement them?”

While I may not know many of the commenter by their real names, I’ve been reading CC long enough and following a few other boards where many of them comment and they’re opinions are no secret. Over the years I have heard many of them consistently decrying the “chumrah culture” and what they perceive [perhaps correctly] as the tendency to add new… Read more »

3 years 8 months ago

What threat to Orthodoxy does Conservative Judaism represent? If anything Conservative Judaism has kept many Jews affiliated who later become Orthodox. I don’t hear a lot of Orthodox Jews becoming Conservative.

3 years 9 months ago


See Avos 2:1 and Sheqalim 3:2 as for the severity of acting in ways that do not cause others to think less of you.

Second, I have no idea how you know how these people (most of whome posting under one name or a pseudonym) feel about chumeros. But, since you raise the subject, where should be be finding places to implement them? R’ Yisrael Salanter was meiqil in how much water to use to wash his hands in order to be machmir on how he treats the maid who lugs it. And missed Kol Nidrei to tend to a crying,… Read more »

David F.
3 years 9 months ago

What I find particularly amusing about the comments to this article is that the very same people who rail against the implementation of any chumrah whatsoever are the ones who now support additional criteria for a hechsher which have no basis in halachah whatsoever. How ironic.

Baruch Gitlin
3 years 9 months ago

Rabbi Shafran, I just want to thank you for allowing comments and posting your response. I think the process, and your response, sharpened the issues, and make the post more interesting and informative than it otherwise would have been. I know this must be a time-consuming thing, and the fact that comments on this blog are always moderated is one of the key things that I believe makes this blog worthwhile.

In short response to your response, I think that if the Orthodox rabbinute, in general, paid more attention to the type of issues that could be considered “ethical” issues in… Read more »

Reb Yid
3 years 9 months ago

Actually Uri L’Tzedek’s Tav HaYosher is also straightforward about ascertaining the “facts”, in that their standards are simply about following relevant federal, state and local laws.

3 years 9 months ago

“lacosta”: why does serving treyf affect the hechsher but abusing workers doesn’t?

Because the hekhsher is a statement that “this isn’t treif”.

When I was a kid, a reastaurant in Queens with Middle Eastern cuisine lost its hekhsher over having a belly dancer. The hekhsher could not in good conscience promote kosher-observant Jewish men watching belly dancing. That’s closer to this topic, in that the agency wouldn’t certify something as kosher for reasons other than kashrus.

But it’s still different, because the consumer is the one who would be sinning. Here it’s the producer who sinned, not what do we do? … Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

listen, i too was raised to believe that it bacame a mitzva to eat grapes when the reform rabbis said it was assur. but how does it become a mitzva to eg buy brand XXX’s salads because the workers who are protesting the company arenot jews? why does serving treyf affect the hechsher but abusing workers doesn’t? [ i thought the kruvim were ish el achiv to symbolize both luchot are equal]…..

3 years 9 months ago

Many readers concentrate on reading ONLY the posts that allow discussion, comments and dialogue.
Perhaps, Rabbi Shafran can answer some of the respectful questions that were brought up by the readers?

3 years 9 months ago

“Although it has long been my policy to disallow public comments on my postings (while always welcoming private ones to me at the address at the bottom of each offering), I have decided to make an exception in the case of this article.”

Yasher Koach. If you don’t mind if I ask, why this article over others?

3 years 9 months ago

A couple additional thoughts:

1) While improving animal welfare and worker conditions are praiseworthy goals, a certification system for food isn’t going to do much good — we need new national legislation reforming factory farms and stopping abuses of workers, and only various social groups (including Jews) working together can achieve such a huge feat.

2) If Conservative Jews want to bridge progressive ethical concerns with halacha, how about persuading the few semi-idyllic farms (the small but growing number of local, genuinely free-range, beyond-organic farms) to get legitimate kosher certification? Factory farms are one of the most horrifying and anti-halachic… Read more »

Mr. Cohen
3 years 9 months ago

What percentage of Conservative Judaism schools and Conservative Judaism synagogues
could pass the Magen Tzedek certification test for ethical standards?

3 years 9 months ago

Is there anything less relevant than a kashurs certification from a body that (counting it’s members) for the most part does not adhere to the laws of kashrus and is going the way of the dinosaurs?

The Conservative movement as a body of Judaism has never been less relevant to Jews – Conservative or otherwise.

This whole issue I think is deserving of less thought that a tree falling in the forest.

“If a conservative hechsher is placed on a product does any body who cares about kashrus ever notice it?”

3 years 9 months ago

[please disregard my earlier “P.S.” in favor of this one…It’s been awhile since I’ve dialogued with frum Jews, I had forgotten the emphasis on nuance necessary]

P.S. To clarify, because I can see my first paragraph becoming wildly misunderstood:

Of course I saw the comments which took issue with things Rabbi Shafran wrote. What I meant by us not being allowed to criticize the criticizers of Rabbi Allen is that we’re not allowed to criticize their policies and the things they say which are openly endorsed by the gedolim (such as anything written in the gedolim-approved articles on these topics, as opposed… Read more »

Bob Miller
3 years 9 months ago

For many of the heterodox, justice is defined according to their political persuasion, while Torah law is invoked as an afterthought or as a smokescreen.

3 years 9 months ago

P.S. To clarify, because I can see my first paragraph becoming wildly misunderstood:

Of course I saw the comments which took issue with things Rabbi Shafran wrote. What I meant by us not being allowed to criticize the criticizers of Rabbi Allen is that we’re not allowed to criticize their policies and the things they say which are openly endorsed by the gedolim (such as anything written in the gedolim-approved media on these topics).

3 years 9 months ago

I appreciate being part of this Dialogue but I’m a bit hesitant about expressing my thoughts which stem from my analysis, since Rabbi Shafran wrote in his first comment that any criticism of talmidei chachamim (for their policies or anything) will be deleted. I am apparently allowed to criticize Rabbi Allen — as Reuvain did with such passion earlier in the comments — but not those criticizing him, as they represent the frum community, and any critique of their critique would be an implicit critique of the leadership. Still, I can at least note an interesting discrepancy.

I thought the… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

The Conservative Movement, at least its left wing, bought into the identification of Juadiam with “Tikkun Olam”, here being used to refer to social activism in causes popular among the more liberal camps of the Democrat Party. So, this comes as no surprise.

If they want to say ethics are more important than kashrus, it’s likely they’re right. Where things go wrong is this notion that there is a tradeoff. Checking the ethics of companies the cater to our community — kashrus, sefarim publishers, etc… — is a good idea. But has nothing to do with kashrus. There is a choice… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

I don’t think the “economic model” I was questioning above was viewed in the manner in which it was proposed. To be more specific, since frum Judaism is ~ 10 – 15% of all Jews in America, if that, then even if only a very small percentage of non-frum Jews buy “traditionally” kosher meat, by sheer numbers, they number at least as many as frum buyers, no? If so, and, if, for the moment, one imagines all of them switching to “heksher tzedek” meat, what do you think the economic implications are for traditional producers – both good and bad?

Baruch Gitlin
3 years 9 months ago

I want to note that shaya expressed something I very much wanted to express also, but couldn’t quite find the words for. Key phrase: “Just because heterodox movements are wrong about religion doesn’t mean they’re wrong about everything.” I think as Orthodox Jews, we sometimes have a tendency to react against ideas that are valid ideas, and truly Torah-based ideas, just because these ideas are embraced by movements we oppose. This is something we should guard against, because I believe it sometimes draws us away from Torah.

And Yitzhak, thanks for the citation. That was, indeed, the article I had in… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

There is another critical issue. The leader of Magen Tzedek, Rabbi Morris Allen, led the charge against Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. He made many accusations, child labor and others. Some of which Rubaskin was found innocent of in court. Allen never apologized nor recanted for his accusations. Orthodox rabbis in his community of St. Paul have stated he acted disengeously. His unethical behavior raises serious questions about his role in defining ethical kasruth. Should the orthodox community support Magen Tzedek that was an outgrowth of Allen’s activism, aligning himself with the unions etc. Clearly he has made false accusations… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

“In the United States and other Western nations, laws are already in place to ensure proper treatment of animals…”

Who says that these secular laws are in accordance with halachah and the spirit of Torah regarding Tzaar Baalei Chayim?

You say that “a slaughterhouse that violates the dictates of tza’ar ba’alei chayim… would all be rightfully subject to a machshir’s rejection.” Has this EVER happened? Somehow, I doubt it. And surely you can’t believe that the factory farming of animals is consistent with the highest ideals of the Torah with regard to tzaar baalei chayim. How is it that people who… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

I agree with your critique of the Conservative movement, and I oppose the “hecksher”. But what gives this initiative the prominence and appeal it has is mainly, I believe, the popularity of alternative food movements concerned with the environmental destruction, animal cruelty and corporation domination associated with the food industry. This is one of most widespread social movements of our time. There are young people dropping out of college to start organic farms. Idealistic young men and women (particularly through the organization Mercy for Animals) have gone undercover to take jobs on industrial farms and taken video footage that clearly… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

Baruch: Tehumin 30 apparently has articles on the topic by Rabbanim Shalom Messas and Yitzhak Kulitz (search on Zomet’s site for ‘Kashrus’).

David Meir
3 years 9 months ago

With respect to your comments policy, in particular the prohibition of “mean-spiritedness”, I ask you to consider the tone of your own article:

“at-first-glance-seemingly-benign quest of a Conservative rabbi”
“by dint of the enterprise’s self-definition as a high-minded corrective”
“whatever articulation acrobatics the Conservative promoters of Magen Tzedek may engage in”
“what they are peddling will rightly be understood”
“What it embraces is hanging the word on whatever its leaders deem worthy of the shingle”
“justified” by so-called “responsa.”
“whose neat trick isn’t balancing a ball on its nose”
“Only a naïf could miss the real motivation for the Conservative front-burnering of its “Justice Certification.”

I think many of… Read more »

David Meir
3 years 9 months ago

I’d like to address the mindset reflected in the very first sentence of the article – which says that where something gains the admiration of a “broad swath” of periodicals it should necessarily be regarded with suspicion (i.e. by the Torah community).

In essence, this is saying that something which appeals to a universal sense of morality is something we should assume to be anti-Torah.

This statement represents the “siege mentality” within Torah. There is undoubtedly a place for such a mindset, since Torah does often come under attack, but know that there are other positions to take. Rather than… Read more »

Baruch Gitlin
3 years 9 months ago

I have the same questions as Orit and cvmay. I’d like to add an additional thought. In Israel (maybe also in the United States, but I’m only familiar with Israel), I believe that many kashrut agencies, including the state rabbinute, have fought for the right to revoke heksherim on grounds that are not directly related to the actual kashrut of the food. For example, the rabbinate attempted to revoke the kashrut certificate of a restaurant that was host to an event with belly dancing. In the past, I remember the rabbinate attempting to revoke kashrut certificates of restauarants promoting events… Read more »

Menachem Lipkin
3 years 9 months ago

This statement, “…a restaurant where tzenius is lacking would all be rightfully subject to a machshir’s rejection.”, pretty much undermines your entire argument. Once you crack open the door to allowing Kashrut certification to be about issues not related to the Kashrut of the food, then nothing is off the table, certainly not things that are far more closely related to the production of food than how a waitress is dressed.

L. Oberstein
3 years 9 months ago

In summation, if this seal came from a secular agency e.g. peta, then the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah would not object. What they object to is granting legitimacy and stature to the Conservative Movement.

In my opinion, if the orthodox tell the companies that it won’t bring them any business and that it is irrelevant to the concerns of kosher consumers, then the Mogen Tzedek won’t get any customers.

What objective standards beyond those imposed by law can be agreed to to such a degree that such a seal would meet with universal approval. It seems to be a moving… Read more »

3 years 9 months ago

Regardless of “actual” kashruth (in frum eyes that is) since a significant swath of Jews buy kosher who are not frum by many standards – what do you think will happen to the cost of kosher meat when there is a competing siphon?

3 years 9 months ago

According to Halacha, is there any connection between the kashrus of a product and the ‘mal-treatment of employeees’?

3 years 9 months ago

Do you think the Conservative movement has raised reasonable objections about food production? Or is all their worry false? For example, why I am Orthodox and value the kapparot ceremony, I can’t help but watch the chickens, cooped up in tiny cages in extreme heat, and wonder if we have forgotten some of our values….