All too often in recent years, the Jewish community at-large has been witness to a troubling number of severe, ethical breaches in factories, restaurants, and caterers that identify themselves with the holy institution of kashrut. These lapses, in the moral and halakhic realm, are a stain upon the American Jewish community and our holy Torah. Removing the stain of unscrupulous and dishonest practices is vital for protecting the honor of the Torah and sustaining the moral and religious health of the Jewish People.
Laws relating to ethical matters, such as the just treatment of workers, the compassionate treatment of animals, and dealing in business with integrity, while distinct from the laws of kashrut, are mandated by halakha and consequential to all God-fearing Jews.
In a 2010 RCA statement, a task force consisting of Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner, Rabbi Michael Broyde, and other Centrist Orthodox rabbis issued the demand that “All US kashrut agencies are urged to adopt transparent policies for withdrawing approval from companies engaged in significant wrongdoing.” While scandals continue to unfold, we have yet to see these transparent policies materialize. It is time that kashrut agencies enact and make known these transparent ethical policies and that the RCA restate the urgency for them to do so.
We look upon these agencies to use their resources and influence to protect the dignity of workers and welfare of animals, while continuing to ensure that the laws of kashrut are upheld with all scrupulousness and vigilance.
In consideration of the above, we, the undersigned rabbis, Jewish community leaders, and kosher consumers, call upon ALL certification agencies, including the Orthodox Union, Star-K, Triangle K, and others in the industry, to articulate and uphold transparent and fair ethical standards in their kosher certification policies. Given its leadership status within the industry, we call upon the OU in particular to lead the way. We are not proposing what ethical standards must be, but we are asking that these agencies put forth and implement their own clear and transparent ethics policies.
Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg, CLAL (President Emeritus)
Rabbi Avi Weiss, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
Professor Jonathan Sarna, Brandeis University
Rabbi Dov Linzer, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, The Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, The David Cardozo Academy
Rabbi Dr. Art Green, Hebrew College
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, Uri L’Tzedek
Rabbi Ari Hart, Uri L’Tzedek
Rabbi Denise Eger, The Central Conference Of American Rabbis
Rabbi Jeff Fox, Yeshivat Maharat
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Aaron Frank, SAR High School
Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman, The Kehilah
Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple
Rabbi Irwin Kula, CLAL
Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Union for Reform Judaism (President Emeritus)
**Institutions listed for identification purposes only**