At OU Kosher, “Preparing for Pesach” takes on a whole new meaning!
This Pesach season, OU Kosher again distinguished itself among kashrus agencies by offering expanded consumer information and education across the media spectrum. From Ask OU Pesach shiurim, to the OU Kosher Pesach Webinar, to the OU Kashrus Hotline and Webbe Rebbe email service. From radio broadcasts, to printed as well as online halachic and product guidance, to a unique all-Pesach kashrus website, to special Pesach social media posts and apps, OU Kosher was again the address for Pesach kashrus information, hands down.
The OU Kashrus Hotline fields consumer questions on all kashrus topics. This Pesach season, the Hotline was augmented by a team of over 15 rabbis plus assistants, and offered extended hours which included Erev Pesach (!). Close to 8,000 consumer calls were fielded during this time. A consumer had used a brand of mayonnaise, popular in the U.S. and Canada, which is usually certified for Pesach, before noticing that the label bore no symbol at all. The hour was late, much had already been prepared, time was of the essence – and the OU hotline was open. Since the vinegar it contains could be chometz or kitniyot derived the question was whether the product was acceptable for use on Pesach, if at all, and how to handle the keilim that the food was made with based on the response. With all of the OU’s information and expertise the OU was the first call. To the consumer’s relief the response was favorable.
The Webbe Rebbe email and webchat program received and answered over 4,000 emails and webchat questions about Pesach issues. Frozen, brand name Salmon, a staple in many a home, appeared in stores without its usual hashgachah – to purchase or not to purchase – was a common question. The OU researched the issue which turned out to be a simple labeling misprint.
The OU Kosher website (www.OUKosher.org) hosted a separate sub-site exclusively for Pesach with complete product listings, halachic directives, and an online version of the OU Passover Directory. Over 175,000 Pesach consumers took advantage of this service. Roughly 60,000 consumers downloaded Pesach information from OU social media and OU apps.
Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Chief Operating Officer of OU Kosher, was featured on The Zev Brenner Show on a daily basis throughout the pre-Pesach period. Rabbis Yoel Schoenfeld and Eli Gersten appeared on JM in the AM with Nachum Segal answering questions regarding Pesach. A dozen other OU rabbinic coordinators and senior kashrus field staff, in addition to Rabbi Elefant, appeared in live shiuim, seminars and broadcasts throughout the New York-New Jersey area during the month prior to Pesach.
- How to kasher kitchen equipment for Pesach · Iintricate halachic shailos about numerous food items · The use of various medicines on Pesach · Which inedible products require Pesach certification · Understanding Kitniyos · Mechiras Chometz · Chometz after Pesach.
During Chol Hamoed Pesach, the OU was open and active in assisting consumers with their on-the-spot kashrus needs. One consumer had purchased matzo crumbs that lacked a Pesach designation the OU was able to research the status of this product immediately the OU’s kashrus network. A caterer that is not OU-certified contacted the OU during Pesach with a wine vinegar shailah, and the OU was again able to assist in a major way. Many other consumers turned to the OU even for their general halachic Pesach needs due to the OU’s availability, accessibility, and broad expertise.
As the mah nishtana of Pesach 2016 becomes a distant echo in our thoughts the OU is already asking ‘how should preparations for next Pesach differ?’
Next year’s first seder will take place Monday, April 10, 2017.