The World of Kosher

Batya Rosner

When you think OU Kosher,  your first thought is probably the more than 600,000 individual products overseen and certified in more than 95 countries worldwide.

More than that, though, the OU is the top destination for kosher information year-round and particularly regarding the challenging preparation for Passover. In the weeks leading up to Passover alone, more than 100,000 consumers interact with OU Kosher staff in seeking guidance and information.

Our website, oukosher.org, continuously posts product status alerts and newly certified products. We feature videos and audio lectures clearly explaining diverse topics related to kosher and contemporary Jewish life; kashrut guidelines; Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s); educational newsletters and magazines; product searches; recipes and more.

From Alaska to Zimbabwe, expanded hours on the OU Kosher consumer hotline (212.613.8241) and broadened accessibility through social media, find very few places OU Kosher has not gone or will not go to service the kosher consumer and the kosher curious. We’re interacting with you on Twitter (twitter.com/OUKosher) and Facebook (facebook.com/OUKosher). And the popular OU Kosher App—free for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch and Android (which has been downloaded more than 30,000 times since its launch in 2012)—includes product searches, FAQ’s and educational articles as well.

And we’re expanding every day. The field of kosher certification involves ever-changing information, applying the blueprints of kashrut (Jewish kosher law) to modern technological, chemical, medical and agricultural developments. The experts at OU Kosher are proficient in modern food production techniques, and chemical and biological processes, no less than the intricacies of Jewish law.

A not-for-profit in the truest form, the money generated from OU Kosher certification returns to the community at large through the Orthodox Union’s vital programming: Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities; OU Advocacy; the OU Job Board; NCSY; OU Community Engagement; the Karasik Department of Synagogue Services; OU Press; NCSY; OU Alumni; Israel Free Spirit Taglit-Birthright Israel; the Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program; and the Seymour J. Abrams Israel World Center in Jerusalem are just some of the community and chesed programs funded and supported by the Orthodox Union.

Additionally, OU Kosher serves as a leader in educating the public in matters of kosher law. OU Kosher, in partnership with the Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood, NJ, has developed numerous kashrut educational programs for the benefit of the public. First came the training of kashrut personnel through ASK OU Kosher internship programs for Talmudic students. Then came ASK OU OUTREACH which brought OU Kosher experts to many yeshivot and kollelim, as well as communities throughout the length and breadth of the United States. The Harry H. Beren Foundation of Lakewood also sponsors the popular VISIT OU programs where day schools, high schools, yeshivot and camps visit the OU and learn about kashrut at OU headquarters. Our newest initiative, ASK OU Skype, brings OU experts to virtually any place on earth. Moreover, an intensive week-long Advanced Kashrut Seminar for Women is for women interested in enriching their knowledge of kashrut.

Our New York headquarters staff consists of more than 50 rabbinic coordinators, each expert in several industries, who serve as account executives for OU certified companies, supplemented by a roster of ingredient specialists, flavor analysts and other support staff. These rabbinic coordinators supervise more than 600 rabbinic field representatives (RFRs) who are stationed throughout the world to monitor the OU’s on-site kosher programs.

As dedicated professionals, our RFRs—comprised of your family members, friends, neighbors, community members—often spend days and weeks away from home (sometimes including Shabbat and holidays) to ensure the highest standards of OU Kosher are maintained within our 8,000 certified plants. They are the ones who are called upon when equipment needs koshering, when a company needs approval of a new source supply, to audit certified plants, evaluate new facilities and perform the overall nuts and bolts work of kosher supervision.

Welcome to the world of OU Kosher.