The Making of a Mashgiach: How the Orthodox Union Trains the Next Generation of Kosher Certifiers

This week and for the next two weeks, 65 rabbis and rabbinical students are participating in the eighth ASKOU program, held every other summer, in which senior rabbis from the Orthodox Union’s Kosher (Kashrut) Division provide intensive instruction in the intricacies of certifying that food is kosher. A kosher certifier – called a mashgiach – must not only be well versed in the complexities of Jewish law, but must also be familiar with rapidly changing food technology, manufacturing processes, chemistry, new products, ingredients, and other aspects of kosher certification.

The ASKOU program has now trained more than 500 mashgichim (plural of mashgiach ), many of whom occupy leading positions with kosher agencies across North America, in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world. The OU is the perfect teacher: it is the largest and most widely respected kosher certifying agency, providing the famed symbol on more than 800,000 products manufactured in 92 countries around the globe.

The students are receiving both classroom training and are taking field trips to restaurants, food manufacturers and others in the food industry. Sessions include: the cheese industry, chemical and pickle companies, Passover issues (when the laws of kosher become even more complex), the baking industry, the oleo chemical industry, oils and shortening, enzymes and emulsifiers, the egg industry and the blood spot, machinery, the flavor industry, ingredient research, etc. Field trips are taken in the New York area and beyond.

To Cover, Contact Stephen Steiner, OU director of public Relations at 212-613-8318. You are invited to sit in on these class sessions or to accompany the group on a field trip. Given the fact that kosher food has become a huge and constantly growing industry – with many non-Jews also choosing to purchase kosher products – this story is one your audience would find fascinating.

The Orthodox Union, now in its second century of service to the Jewish community of North America and beyond, is a world leader in community and synagogue services, adult education, youth work through NCSY, political action through the IPA, and advocacy for persons with disabilities through Yachad and Our Way. Its kosher supervision label, the , is the world’s most recognized kosher symbol and can be found on over 800,000 products manufactured in 92 countries around the globe.

OU Kosher Staff