Echoes of Achdusin Iselin, NJ
Running a kashrus organization can be a challenging job. Establishing standards and procedures and ensuring compliance is a daunting responsibility.
From May 8th through May 10th, leaders of kashrus organizations from around the world joined together for three days of sharing best practices, shiurim, hands-on
demonstrations, networking, chizuk, and celebration.
Held in Iselin, NJ, the convention was facilitated by AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations). Founded in 1985 and representing 108 kashrus organizations, AKO has enabled the kashrus industry to unite, establish standards, and meet global challenges.
With over 150 participants, the convention was led by Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, Executive Director of AKO and Kashrus Administrator of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc), and hosted by Kof-K Kosher Supervision, where Rabbi Ari Senter and Rabbi Moshe Reich, together with the entire Kof-K staff truly made it a memorable convention.
A highlight of this convention (there are two every year, one focusing on industrial supervision, and one catering to local certifiers) was undoubtedly the siyum haShas and hachnasas Sefer Torah in memory of Rabbi Zecharia Senter, Founder and Rabbinic Director of the Kof-K for half a century, and Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, who led the OK for 33 years.
The two men, who passed away on the final day of Pesach, exactly one year apart, were remembered as visionary leaders who broadened the frontiers and raised the standards of kosher supervision.
The hands-on demonstrations and workshops included one on nikkur (removing the forbidden fats from mammals), for which almost an entire cow was brought into the conference hall, and one on kosher fish, during which more than 20 pieces of fish — both kosher and non-kosher — were inspected and displayed.
In an industry where even the smallest details can make a big difference, there were no less than three sessions focusing on leafy greens: one by the Hisachdus Harobonim on the art of checking for bugs, one by Cincinnati Kosher on vertical farming, and one by the Star-K on the reliability of triple-washed lettuce.
Other highlights included a demonstration by the OU on safely kashering commercial equipment, a thoughtful presentation of new research on the issue of displaced abomasum in cows, and a lively debate on publishing lists of items not requiring certification.
Many participants reported having gained greatly from a question-and-answer session with Rav Dovid Cohen, leader of the Gvul Yavetz community in Brooklyn, who addressed many ethical and moral dilemmas, and an inspirational talk was given by Rabbi Meyer Yedid, Rosh Yeshivah of YDE and Rabbi of Congregation Shaare Zion.
“Throughout the conference, the achdus was palatable,” said Rabbi Fishbane. “Where else do you have competitors helping each other out, sharing tips of the trade, and working together in harmony? At the end of the day, we all work for one Boss, and we’re all here to do His work.”