OU Kosher Educational Program Reaches Out

September 25, 2008

The ASK OUTREACH program, which was specifically designed to put OU Kosher in contact with communities in the Torah world not part of its usual constituency, reached out in a most significant way last week, conducting a two-part hands-on session in kosherization for the Satmar Yoreh Deah Kollel of Kiryas Joel, NY.

ASK OUTREACH is made possible by funding from the Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood, NJ.

Under the direction of Rabbi Yosef Grossman, OU Director of Kashrut Education, and with Rabbi Moshe Perlmutter of Passaic, NJ providing the training, OU Kosher went to the Satmar Talmud Torah’s kitchen – capable of serving 10,000 meals daily — to illustrate foodservice kashering, performed in large kitchens such as those found in schools, hotels and catering establishments. The next day Rabbi Perlmutter demonstrated industrial kashering, performed in plants and factories, at Oasis Food Company in Hillside, N.J., manufacturers of margarine and other condiments.

Some 20 members of the kollel, what Rabbi Grossman called “a very learned group,” participated. According to Rabbi Grossman, the group could have been as large as 100, based on interest in the community, if there had been space to accommodate them.

Outreach to Satmar follows similar approaches to Chabad Lubavitch, Belz, Bobov, Vichnitz and Skver Chasidim, among other groups. “It was only a matter of time before we got to Satmar,” Rabbi Grossman said. “We were approached to demonstrate kashering. Rabbi Perlmutter has great expertise in this area.”

In its study of Jewish law, the Satmar kollel seeks out practical applications of everything kollel members study, thus leading to the request to the OU.

“It is clear,” declared Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, “that in the Torah world, we have much more in common than what sets us apart. The range of communities that have availed themselves of ASK OUTREACH is living proof that the OU’s expertise spans the Jewish world, and that respect for our knowledge and its practical applications is a unifying force in the observant community.”

Back in Kiryas Joel, the session in the Satmar kitchen, focusing on ovens, pots, kettles and other items, emphasized how to make a treif vessel kosher; as Rabbi Grossman pointed out, everything in the Satmar kitchen was kosher, but the techniques could still be demonstrated.

“We received a very warm reception at Kiryas Joel and were made to feel right at home,” Rabbi Grossman said. He was pleased to see the OU symbol on food items in the Satmar kitchen.

“We were very pleased to reach out to Satmar in our ongoing efforts to develop relationships with all segments of the Torah world who would like to benefit from our services,” Rabbi Grossman said. “We hope this approach to the Satmar community will be ongoing in future areas of mutual benefit.”

Rabbi Perlmutter agreed. He noted that in kosherizing seminars he gives for the OU, this was “the only time it was totally Satmar and on their home turf, in their kitchen, with their own mashgiach participating.”

Summing up their knowledge of kosher law as “phenomenal,” he said, “We both learned a lot from each other.”