Rabbi Stone’s Roadshow or, Why Your Kosher Product Is Kosher
Rabbi Avrohom Stone of the OU Kosher Division has a new assignment: to travel the country explaining to management and key personnel in OU-supervised companies why they do what they do to maintain their kosher program. The goal of Rabbi Stone’s seminars is to explain the $33 billion kosher market and what the kosher process entails.
Rabbi Stone, an OU Rabbinic Field Representative based in New Jersey, has recently conducted three seminars, including one for Meier’s Dairy in Little Rock, AK, the second largest dairy in the country. A seminar for Nestle has been planned for November in Glendale, CA.
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “The companies find it very useful,” said Rabbi Stone. “While they know some aspects of the kosher market, they often don’t fully understand the different parts of the kosher program and how they fit together.” Included in the program is an outline of the kosher process, i.e. how a product becomes kosher; what makes a product or food kosher; who makes up the kosher market; and why it is advantageous for a company to become kosher. However, the main focus of the seminars, Rabbi Stone explained, is a clear presentation of the OU system of maintaining the kosher program as it is applied TO that particular plant.
Both the companies and the rabbis agree that communication is a major key to a productive company-OU relationship. “We find that when we communicate with companies and explain the kosher program, the supervision is enhanced,” declared Rabbi Yaakov Luban, OU Executive Rabbinic Coordinator for New Companies, and the overseer of the kosher seminars. “This program strengthens the cooperative effort, which in turn enhances our supervision. When employee understanding is enhanced, the companies are equipped to understand what is expected and required of them.”
Rabbi Luban attributes the success of the seminars to Rabbi Stone’s special attributes. “Rabbi Stone is a very talented individual who is extremely knowledgeable about kashrut as well as being an excellent communicator with a great sense of humor,” he said.
According to Rabbi Stone, “There was a consensus among the OU rabbis that such a program would be very valuable to our companies. Our seminars give people an appreciation for the value and marketability of kosher products.”
Available to management level and key employees within OU-supervised companies, the seminars target personnel who are not completely familiar with who and what constitutes the kosher market. According to Rabbi Stone, the OU rabbis don’t always have the opportunity to explain the kosher process directly to the employees involved while in a plant. He added that it is essential for these employees to have a greater understanding of the process so that they know why and what they are doing.
While the same basic format of the seminar is given to each company, Rabbi Stone tours each plant and meets with the key employees prior to his presentation. According to Rabbi Luban, this is done so that Rabbi Stone can make an analysis of the companies’ specific needs and tailor the presentation to address the specific issues that present themselves in that particular plant.
Rabbi Stone is confident the program will expand rapidly. He hopes that the OU will be able to provide up to six seminars a month to various companies. “We have already received requests from companies to come back and present the seminar again next year,” declared Rabbi Stone.