When a woman from Rabbi Mosheh Aziz’s congregation in Great Neck contacted him to ask why canned vegetables need a hechsher, he was able to provide an in-depth response, thanks to his participation in a three-week seminar hosted by the OU.
Without certification, he explained, such vegetables may have been cooked and packed on the same equipment recently in contact with pork or shellfish. In fact, he wrote, he had just witnessed a cannery package cans of pork and beans immediately before handling vegetables.
Rabbi Aziz, rabbi at Ohr Esther Synagogue and an onsite rabbi at the Sephardic Beit Midrash Kollel, had just participated in a three-week seminar about the laws of kashrus hosted by OU Kosher, the world’s largest kosher certifying agency. The OU recently concluded its two annual kashrus training courses: the ASK (Advanced Seminars in Kashrus) OU Summer Kashrus Training Program, in which 20 people took part in the three-week course, and a concurrent one-week training program that attracted 60 participants.
Based at the Orthodox Union’s office in Manhattan, the programs offered participants the opportunity to learn from experts about the laws of kashrus in a variety of settings, and then see the concepts in action.
ASK OU was conveniently timed to coincide with many kollels’ bein hazemanim – including participant Zvi Spiegel’s – Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, Md.
The program brought participants into companies across the tri-state area, including the Kedem Winery in Marlboro, N.Y.; David’s Cookies in Cedar Grove, N.J.; the Empire Kosher poultry plant in Mifflintown, Pa; the Culinary Depot, a commercial restaurant equipment designer and distributor in Spring Valley, N.Y., near Monsey; and several OU-certified restaurants and caterers.
Participants came from around the world to participate. Edgardo Rozenknopf, from Panama City, Panama, said that his “expectations for this program were extremely high, and still they were exceeded,” said Rozenknopf, a mashgiach at three restaurants and a small factory in Panama. “I wanted to make sure that I’m the best mashgiach I can be, by learning from the biggest people in kosher.”
“We were pleased to be able to offer such high-level programming that even drew in international participants,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, who gave one of the program’s opening shiurim. “Whether they came from New York, Panama, or the Netherlands, the overwhelming feedback has been that participants were impressed with the content, rabbinic coordinators, and overall organization of the programs,” he said.
“There is no other program as expansive and hands-on as ASK OU,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO and executive rabbinic coordinator of OU Kosher, who led the last session of the one-week program, “ASK the Rabbi.” “For future mashgichim, as well as anyone curious about the processes behind kosher, this is the program to take part in.”