Yudi Friedman

Director of Products Department

Yudi began her career at the OU over 25 years ago, starting as an outside consultant for computer programming. After the Y2K, she left, and during that time, she had her eighth child. 

She came back to the OU and joined the OU Direct team, which was quite new at the time. The new system offered companies the ability to go online and enter products, ingredients, and access the Universal Kosher database (UKD). Eventually, she took over the management of the products department, and now, as a supervisor, her team takes care of all the schedule B’s. 

People often ask her what she does, and she finds it hard to explain.  Though she handles emails and computer entries, there’s so much more responsibility involved. She’s proud of her team, and they’re all proud to be part of the kosher food options in the United States. 

Her department is responsible for creating the letters of certification and working with products not only found on supermarket shelves but also the industrial products that go into those final products. This is a significant part of their work. 

Each day Yudi handles new product requests ranging from chocolate chip cookies to glycerin to different flavors. They review the ingredients and process, then add the final product to the company’s list. It could range from one to hundreds of products a day across many companies. They also handle legal agreements called private label agreements between manufacturers and distributors, such as Costco, BJ’s, etc., where products are manufactured with their own labels on them. 

What Yudi enjoys most about the job is being the first to learn about new products like new chocolates or flavors. There are also unusual days, like when manufacturers change ingredients or when the products department dealt with a potato chip company’s consumer-driven flavor campaign. It was fun to see consumer responses and put them into their system. 

Yudi lives in Mill Basin, Brooklyn with her husband and runs a Chabad house (community center). She has 10 children, ranging in age from 39 to 22, who are all over the world, running their own Chabad houses in places like Florida, California, Cyprus, and Israel. She’s truly grateful for the life she has and the work she’s able to do.  “It’s an honor to be part of an organization that allows so many around the world to keep kosher. That’s the most rewarding part of this job.”