Attending a Yeshiva in Manhattan certainly has its pluses. This Wednesday, our 8B class took a fascinating trip to the center of the Kashrut world, the OU. There we learned all that it takes to make sure that what we are eating is kosher.
It is really astonishing how many ingredients and sub-ingredients there are in so many simple foods. We watched a movie about the story of a Drakes Yodel, and the incredible process of research and kashering that takes place to make “him” kosher.
Next we learned about Jewish Chessed, and how the OU takes the money it earns from its Kashrut division and channels it back into the Jewish community, i.e. Yachad, NCSY, their Job board, politics and so much more.
We saw a live presentation on the Kashrut of birds. The pasukim that we learned about in Chumash came alive, as we saw the complexity of identifying which birds the Torah says are non-kosher. Rabbi Loike, the presenter, shared something that really caught our attention: He told us of the time that he was explaining to a bird expert how the Torah’s definition of predator differs from the common scientific definition. The example he gave was that according to the Torah a parakeet is a “predator” since it lifts its food in its hands. The expert commented on how fascinating that was because he was in the middle of researching how a falcon’s closest genetic relative is the parakeet! On the other hand we saw how a duck, which is Kosher, certainly eats other animals, as the duck (not for the faint of heart) scooped up gold fish in front of our eyes! Moreh Arik commented that it was the best Kashrut presentation he had ever experienced.
To the boys of 8B: I want to tell you that Rabbi Loike was especially impressed with you guys and your knowledge of Kashrut!
Our last leg of our OU journey was no less fascinating–we stepped into the office of Rabbi Nussbaum, the “voice of OU kosher hotline”. While there, we watched the calls coming in, and I’m not sure if they are always so fundamental, but–wow–was it eye opening. One call was from an ice cream store in Denver working on getting a Kosher certification, another was about a mistaken label, and another was from a medical facility regarding medicines they have been using.
Of course the trip would not have been complete without heading over to the delicious Bravo Pizza Downtown. Kol HaKovod to the boys of 8B. You made us proud with the way you learned and conducted yourselves on every leg of the trip.
by Rabbi Avi Genack
Judaic Studies Teacher