ASK OU’S Kashrus Seminar For Women Provides Intellectually Engaging Summer Experience With Lessons For Everyday Kosher Living

Women's Seminar
OU Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack, far left, and OU Kosher Senior Educational Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Yosef Grossman, far right, with seminar participants at the OU Kosher headquarters in Manhattan.

As the school year begins in full swing, groups of parents and students alike are apt to reflect on what they did and where they went during their summer vacation. Some might discuss their travels to an exotic island in the Pacific; trekking through the woods in the Catskills; visiting Jewish villages and historic sites of a bygone era in Europe; or embarking on a scenic cruise of the Mediterranean.  But a select cohort of 22 women from across the New York Tristate Area went no further than downtown Manhattan and its suburbs for a unique journey and learning experience: the semi-annual Harry H. Beren ASK OU Kashrus Seminar for Women.

One participant described her experience with the following adjectives: “Awesome, amazing, informative, thought provoking, educational.”

“Excellent,” another concurred. “Very informative and detailed information. Nice balance of classes and touring.”

The week-long program, which concluded in late August, included lectures at OU Kosher headquarters in New York City as well as several field trips: a visit to the Hilton Meadowlands Hotel kitchen in East Rutherford, NJ; the Arizona Tea Factory in Maplewood, NJ; New Star Caterers in North Woodmere, NY; Seasons Supermarket in Lawrence, NY; and Oasis Foods in Hillside, NJ.

And of course there were the speakers. “I really learned a lot and found the speakers to be very knowledgeable and eager to share their knowledge with us,” one participant said.

Sessions and presenters included:

  • State of the (Orthodox) Union by Rabbi Moshe Elefant, OU Kosher Chief Operating Officer
  • Shemita in the Diaspora by Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz
  • What is Quality Kashrus by Rabbi Yaakov Luban
  • Primer on Margarine and Pesach by Rabbi Akiva Tendler
  • OU Kashrus, How Can We Help You? by Rabbi Eli Eleff, Rabbinic Coordinator and Consumer Relations Administrator, and Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum, the voice of OU Kosher’s Consumer Hotline
  • Bedikas Tola’im (Inspecting Vegetables for Insect Infestations) by Rabbi Issar M. Fuchs
  • The 21st Century Supermarket and its Multiple Kashrus Issues by Rabbi Yosef Eisen (with tour of Seasons in Lawrence)
  • Foodservice Kashrus Issues and Tour of New Star Caterers Kitchen by Rabbi Dov Schreier
  • OU Foodservice Protocols by Rabbi Issar M. Fuchs
  • Red Flag Ingredients by Rabbi Avrohom Juravel
  • The Kashrus of Medications by Rabbi Gavriel Price
  • The Baking Industry by Rabbi Yisroel Paretzky
  • How to Identify Chicken Sha’alos by Rabbi Nosson Goldberg
  • OU Kosher Marketing by Phyllis Koegel, Marketing Director for OU Kosher

Women's Seminar Phyllis

OU Kosher marketing director Phyllis Koegel presents a PowerPoint of OU Kosher history and interviews with companies with OU certification. “Jelly Belly sales jumped a significant percentage shortly after it became certified by the OU,” she recounts to the audience, noting that this is a growth pattern in many other OU certified companies.

  • Keeping Your Kosher Kitchen Kosher by Rabbi Eli Gersten
  • Current Dairy Issues by Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer
  • The Baking Industry by Rabbi Yisroel Bendelstein
  • Tour Of The Hilton Meadowlands Hotel Kitchen Foodservice Kosherization led by Rabbi Moshe Perlmutter
  • An Ex”Salmon”Ation of Fish Issues by Rabbi Chaim Goldberg
  • Hilchos Kashrus (Laws Of Keeping Kosher) by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Posek (Halachic Decisor) for OU Kosher
  • Bishul Akum, (Issues With Food Cooked By Non-Jews) with OU Kosher Chief Executive Officer Rabbi Menachem Genack

Women's Seminar Genack
OU Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack speaks to seminar participants on the topic of bishul akum.

Rabbi Yosef Grossman, OU Kosher’s Senior Educational  Rabbinic Coordinator, said, “It was very gratifying to hear from each participant how pleased they were with the program. Many of the ladies felt that such a program should be taught in all high schools and seminaries.  The OU would be pleased to offer its Harry H. Beren ASK OU program to serve as a prototype for inclusion in future curriculums of high schools and seminaries.”

Women's Seminar Genack II
Participant takes careful notes during Rabbi Genack’s presentation.

The participants agreed. “My overall impression is that it has been an excellent program and also highly organized,” one wrote. “I learned a tremendous amount and it was fascinating.”

 By Atara Arbesfeld


For further information on Harry H. Beren ASK OU programs, contact Rabbi Grossman at 212-613-8212; or Rabbi Eli Eleff, OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator and Consumer Relations Administrator, at 212.613.8352;


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OU Kosher Staff