Chemical Engineer & Kosher Coordinator for Novozymes

OU Kosher Staff

I first assumed that that there would be a textbook that could tell me all I needed to know. But the only books I could find were written for Jewish housewives, rather than for production engineers. I therefore had to pick up the information I needed from my frequent meetings with OU representatives, primarily Rabbi Menachem Adler and Dr. John Meyer. In principle, I could coordinate kosher compliance for Novozymes without knowing very much about kosher myself. As long as we meet the requirements in the OU contract and are aware of possible restrictions on Schedule A, we should be on safe ground. However, there have been situations where these two documents together did not give the whole story. In such situations, knowledge about kosher rules can prevent violations before they arise.

Furthermore, when training other people in kosher rules and compliance, it is extremely helpful to have a greater knowledge, just as I expect my children’s teachers to know more than just what they need to teach. And I also learned that the more I knew about the kosher rules and their background, the more interesting my job was as a kosher coordinator.

I fully realize that I am only familiar with a very small fraction of the complete set of kosher rules. However, I believe that I have learned most of the rules that are of direct relevance to Novozymes’ processes. This knowledge enables me to better understand OU’s decisions and to find applicable solutions in discussions with Rabbi Adler and Dr. Meyer.

However, from my desk in Novozymes’ headquarters I cannot ensure compliance at all our plants in Denmark, Switzerland, the United States and China. It is therefore critical that I am able to translate the requirements into systems and terminology that can be understood by all Novozymes employees who are involved daily in kosher compliance. I do this in a number of ways:

  • I have written a set of global procedures for kosher compliance. Each procedure is specific for one function: QC, purchasing, laboratories, production, etc.
  • I arrange training sessions at all Novozymes’ sites.These sessions start with a general introduction followed by detailed instructions about the rules that specifically apply to that audience.
    I am right now arranging a two-day training seminar for kosher coordinators from all Novozymes’ sites. I will do most of the training myself, but Dr. Meyer will also show up and give a probably very colorful presentation.
  • I have made myself known all over Novozymes as “Mr. Kosher.”Therefore, people throughout the organization know that they can contact me if they have any questions about kosher certification and compliance. Colleagues sometimes ask me if it isn’t frustrating working with something as “non-scientific” as kosher.

I then tell them that on the contrary, I find it very challenging to make old religious rules and modern biotechnology meet and go hand in hand, and thereby enable even more people to benefit from Novozymes’ high quality products.