The Orthodox Union’s Kosher (Kashrut) Division announced a new program, in which its in-house specialists will share their knowledge and expertise on a wide variety of topics with kosher consumers and other interested individuals around the world.
The programs are Kosher Tidbits, a comprehensive series of 15-minute broadcasts on OU Radio, which will be available as well on the OU and OU Kosher websites; and a lecture series in which the OU experts will hit the road to share their knowledge with audiences across North America.
The Orthodox Union, the world’s largest and most respected kosher certification agency, grants the famed OU symbol to more than 400,000 products manufactured in 80 countries around the globe. Its worldwide staff is guided by 50 New York-based Rabbinic Coordinators (RC’s), the overwhelming majority of whom are specialists in the global food industry. Each of these RC’s has spent years learning about and grappling with the halachic (Jewish law) concerns of their assigned industries, and have visited countless plants and facilities where they have worked with industry specialists.
OU Kosher recently established an internal Communications and Marketing arm under the direction of Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran. According to Rabbi Dr. Safran, “OU Kosher undertook this initiative not only to communicate and market the OU symbol to the world at large, but to make available to the Jewish community wherever it may be the overwhelming amount of Torah knowledge found at OU headquarters in New York, supplemented by the experience of hundreds of Rabbinic Field Representatives (RFR’s) around the world.”
The first program, Kosher Tidbits, coordinated by Rabbi Dr. Safran and assisted by Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell – a Rabbinic Coordinator who oversees numerous chemical industrial plants—will feature RC’s who will make presentations on OU Radio. These presentations can be downloaded at the OU website, http://www.ou.org; and the OU Kosher website, http://www.oukosher.org. The programs will be targeted to rabbis, scholars, students—indeed, everyone who keeps kosher and who wants to better understand the intricacies of kosher law, including the contemporary food industry.
In order to increase the impact of this program, the email address of each presenting rabbi will be made available. “That way,” explained Rabbi Dr. Safran, “if listeners want further elaboration or clarification of a given subject, they will be able to contact us. It’s important for the community to be aware that all kinds of kashrut information is available at the OU, and that we are only to happy to respond.”
Segments of Kosher Tidbits that have already been recorded include:
- Ingredient Panels (on packaging): Unraveling the Mysteries, with Rabbi Yisroel Bendelstein
- Yours, Mine, and Hours: Waiting Between Milk and Meat, with Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell
- All Cods Are Kosher – And Other Common Mistakes, with Rabbi Chaim Goldberg
- The OU-D Symbol: Is the Product More or Less Dairy? with Rabbi Yaakov Luban
- The Restaurant: What Should the Certificate Certify? with Rabbi Dov Schreier
A full and continuously updated listing of Kosher Tidbits presentations can be found on http://www.oukosher.org.
In the second program, both RC’s and RFR’s – “encompassing the greatest concentration of kosher expertise in the world,” according to Rabbi Dr. Safran —will travel to synagogues, schools, the OU’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth centers, study groups, and college campuses (particularly the 12 universities nationwide that feature the OU’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Program) to share their knowledge.
Subject matters of the lectures and discussions, according to Rabbi Dr. Safran, will include the home, the kitchen, vegetables, meat, equipment, and travel, among others. Topics will comprise the universality of kosher – such as Kashrut Unbound: The Globe-Spanning Growth of OU Kosher, with Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Chief Operating Officer of OU Kosher; and Industrial Kashrut: Its Complexities and Challenges, with Rabbi Menachem Genack, Chief Executive Officer of OU Kosher. Sessions will also deal with the intricacies of specific industries, such as Yolks for Folks: A Consumer’s Guide to Eggs and Kashrut; and The Kashrut of Fish: Of Fins, Scales and Tuna Tales. Of course, there will be sessions on Passover preparation.