Kosher Animal Cruelty

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‘Captive Jews,’ Animal Abuse, and the Kosher Food Racket


Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. Photo take in 2008 after the raid.
What you’re about to read and view will perhaps offer some interesting perspectives on Jewish criminality and tribal identity.

Five years ago, federal authorities raided a kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in the town of Postville, Iowa over a practice of hiring undocumented immigrants (presumably at slave wages) and supplying them with phony identity papers. Several management level employees at the plant were convicted of federal labor law violations. Charges were filed against plant owner Aaron Rubashkin, though later dismissed, however, his son, plant CEO Sholom Rubashkin, ended up being convicted on 86 counts of financial fraud, including bank fraud and money laundering, and sentenced to 27 years in prison.

The raid on Agriprocessors Inc. took place on May 12, 2008. In addition to arresting plant management, authorities also took into custody 389 undocumented immigrants, including 31 children. Agriprocessors plants have been cited for violations of child labor laws and the “recruitment of illegal immigrants and inducing them to work in often dangerous conditions at illegal wages.” In addition to treating its workforce shoddily, the Postville plant was also exposed for animal cruelty in an undercover video filmed by PETA (see below).

Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has compared non-Jews to donkeys, and it’s interesting to note that what we have contained here in the Postville story are abuses against both cows and Gentiles, all taking place in one Jewish-owned plant.

The Rubashkin family are members of the Lubavitcher branch of ultra-orthodox Hasidic Judaism, and perhaps to no surprise, the Chabad Lubavitch movement began making efforts on Sholom Rubashkin’s behalf almost from the start. In an article published December 31, 2008, the JTA reported that Chabad members had formed a committee to support Rubashkin’s legal defense.

“We are a group of guys who, No. 1, are looking to help Rubashkin get out on bail,” committee member Rabbi Shea Hecht told JTA. “And No. 2, to voice our concern because we believe that much of this attack is not just an attack on the Rubashkin family and Agriprocessors, but it’s really an attack on kosher food. And it’s questionable if it’s one step beyond that — an attack on Jews.”


Sholom Rubashkin

Members of other Orthodox organizations, including National Council of Young Israel and Agudath Israel of America, were said to be involved in the effort as well. But there was a problem. Rubashkin was deemed a flight risk by prosecutors, who cited Israel’s Law of Return granting Jews automatic citizenship, and as well as the fact that authorities found a travel bag with money, silver coins, and passports in his home.

But perhaps the most interesting information comes in the story’s very final paragraph:

 


A leading figure in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Hecht serves on the board of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, which is supporting the Rubashkin effort through an existing fund for the redemption of Jewish captives — a mitzvah known as pidyon shvuyim.

 


The owners of this kosher abattoir were apparently exploiting, among other things, the labor of illegal immigrants, but it seems Rubashkin’s supporters viewed him as a “Jewish captive.” Interesting. And what is a “Jewish captive”? The JTA doesn’t bother explaining, but we can go here and read an article entitled “Ransoming Captive Jews,” by Rabbi David Golinkin, that gives us a fairly clear picture:

 


Anyone who surveys this topic historically is struck by the fact that many thousands of Jews were captured and held for ransom throughout Jewish history and that Jewish communities went to extraordinary lengths to redeem captives.

Indeed, the Talmud (Bava Batra 8b) calls pidyon shvuyim a “mitzvah rabbah” (great mitzvah) and says that captivity is worse than starvation and death.

Maimonides rules that he who ignores ransoming a captive is guilty of transgressing commandments such as “you shall not harden your heart” (Deuteronomy 15:7); “you shall not stand idly by the blood of your brother” (Leviticus 19:16); and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

And one who delays in ransoming a captive is considered like a murderer (Yoreh Deah 252:3). Indeed, Maimonides himself wrote letters exhorting his fellow Jews to redeem captives and collected money for pidyon shvuyim.

 


It would probably, then, be fair to say (although I’m sure Rabbi Golonkin would disagree with me), that the concept of “Jewish captives” and the “mitzvah” pertaining to them arise out of the age-old Jewish persecution complex. Even in a country like America, with a federal government thoroughly dominated by the pro-Israel lobby, Jews suffer persecution. It is self-evident, isn’t it? A Jew might be violating federal laws, exploiting the labor of children, forging identity papers for illegal immigrants, mistreating animals, laundering money and committing acts of financial fraud, but if he is arrested the only possible explanation can be that he is suffering persecution because he’s a Jew.

According to Wikipedia, the majority of the immigrants working at the plant at the time of the raid were Mayan indigenous people from Guatemala, and there seems to have been an effort to lay the blame on the workers’ doorstep.

“Obviously some of the people here were presenting false documents,” Getzel Rubashkin, a grandson of Aaron Rubashkin, who also held a position at the plant, was quoted as saying. “Immigration authorities somehow picked it up and they did what they are supposed to do, they came and picked them up. God bless them for it.”

A somewhat different perspective on Agriprocessors was expressed by Iowa Governor Chet Culver in 2008 after the raid:

 


Before the federal raid, Agriprocessors already had a history of sanctions by Iowa’s state regulatory agencies for water pollution, as well as health and safety law violations. Alarming information about working conditions at the Postville plant – including allegations ranging from the use of child labor in prohibited jobs to sexual and physical abuse by supervisors; from the nonpayment of regular and overtime wages to the denial of immediate medical attention for workplace injuries – brought to national attention by the raid forces me to believe that, in contrast to our state’s overall economic-development strategy, this company’s owners have deliberately chosen to take the low road in its business practices.

 


In September of 2009, just as Sholom Rubashkin was about to go to trial, Chabad held a special day of prayer on the defendant’s behalf, but apparently God wasn’t listening. Rubashkin was convicted in November of that year. It didn’t seem to deter Chabad. In March of 2011, students at a Chabad school in Brooklyn adopted prisoner Rubashkin as their pen pal.

In June of this year a new angle on the Postville story was reported by the TV show Frontline, which alleged that widespread sexual harassment has taken place at agricultural operations in the US, including at the Agriprocessors plant. According to Wikipedia:

 


Supervisory personnel, usually themselves Hispanic as are the victims, rely on fear of both loss of employment and deportation as well as on ignorance of potential sources of help in order to take sexual advantage of unwilling undocumented female workers with impunity. Victims, seeing law enforcement personnel as the people who will arrest and deport them, do not tend to report these incidents. Some of the victims are only in their mid-teens. The documentary claimed that this sort of thing had been going on in a particularly vicious fashion at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville. When the plant was raided by ICE, there was apparently no organized effort by authorities to investigate such allegations. The documentary also pointed out that although there have been some limited successful civil lawsuits against employers for sexual harassment of employees by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there have as of yet been no criminal prosecutions of actual perpetrators. This lack of prosecution includes cases in which numerous different women have provided complaints, including for actual rape, against a specific supervisor.

 


All of this I mention sort of as a roundabout way of introducing the following article by Ariadna Theokopoulos on the kosher food racket. It should be pointed out that the Rubashkins were not minor bit players in the kosher industry. On the contrary. A 2011 article at the New York Daily News refers to Sholom Rubashkin as the “kosher king,” while an article at Wikipedia calls the Rubashkin family a “kosher meat dynasty.” I don’t know if the Postville operation was/is representative of the industry as a whole, but all of this is worth keeping in mind as you read Ariadna’s very informative article.

 

The Kosher Ripoff of the American People

By Ariadna Theokopoulos

The Jewish Chronicle reports with pride that the business of stamping food “kosher” in the US has recorded a profit of approximately $1.8 million. That represents reported profit alone, not income, which implies that in addition to that it has sucked in from food manufacturers and distributors an undisclosed amount in “expenses,” primarily salaries of the army of “inspectors,” who are actually the bagmen of the organized kosher stamp racket.

Actually the food manufacturers and distributors paying this para-governmental tax on their products only pass it on to the consumers. Therefore what the kosher certification represents is a grand scale ripoff of the American people, who a long time ago revolted because of a tax on tea….

In a style reminiscent of the Mafia protection racket, the American branch of the United Synagogue Kashrut Department demands that food manufacturers/distributors have their large consumption products certified as kosher.

Why do Americans need kosher-proofed  food? Not only do they not need it, most do not even have a clue of the existence of this private tax on their food. In fact most of the “twopercenters,” consumers of cheeseburgers and shrimp do not need it either but they keep mum about this tax imposed upon the whole nation for the profit of the international kosher racket. Companies, which pass the cost to consumers, know better than to complain or refuse, from giants like Coca Cola to smaller organic produce wholesalers.

Americans are brain-washed to believe the kosher foods are better for everybody because they are of higher quality and because Jews “answer to a ‘higher authority’

There are more than 80 kosher symbols in the United States. Each represents a kosher certification organization that checks food manufacturers to ensure they follow halachic requirement, then sends a letter of certification.

Here are only a few examples:

• The symbol for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, or O/U, is a capital U inside a circle. The O/U certifies more than 500,000 products throughout the world—including Coca-Cola, Cargill and Procter & Gamble, making it the most recognizable kosher symbol in the world.

• The symbol for Star-K Certification and Quality Assurance International is a capital K inside a five-point star. Due to the growing international demand for both kosher and organic food, they say, meaning, due to this growing market recognized potential for ripoff, Star-K certifies that food is both kosher and organic.

• In addition to symbols, there are other Kashrus (Jewish dietary laws) designations:
D: Dairy: DE: Dairy Equipment (does not contain dairy but still cannot be eaten with meat);
P: Passover (meets kosher standards year-round, including for Passover): Pareve: Non-dairy and non-meat: Chalav Yisrael: Contains kosher-supervised milk.

The organized kosher racket is so huge it now extends beyond food. The organization aptly called Kosher Supervision of America – the American branch of the international extortion racket — proudly describes itself thus:

Kosher Supervision of America is a not-for-profit Kashrus certification agency recognized by rabbinical associations throughout the world. KSA is the largest, recognized and accepted, Orthodox kosher certification agency based in the western United States. We enjoy the support and cooperation of thousands of synagogues and rabbis representing hundreds of thousands of kosher consumers.

Servicing hotel chains, supermarket chains, food manufacturers, food packers & distributors, restaurants, caterers, independent grocers and bakeries, the KSA symbol can be found on grocery store shelves across the nation and around the world.

Given this glimpse of the extent of the shakedown we may take with a grain of salt the modestly reported profit in the Jewish Chronicle article below. In fact the estimates of the ripoff  are on an altogether different scale:

In 1960 there were only 225 companies paying the kosher food tax. This jumped to 475 in 1966 and 800 by 1975. Jewish promoters of kosher labeling say there now has been a “kosher food explosion” today with over 16,000 products now paying rabbinical organizations for their “stamp of kosher approval.” Kosher products retail sales today amount to $30 billion a year according to “The Chicago Jewish Sentinel” of July 7, 1988.

Note: In the year 2000, this is now a trillion dollar racketeering scheme, in which every nation on Earth pays the KOSHER TAX.

Orthodox Jewish organizations have copyrighted certain symbols which only they can use. The giant in the business is “The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations” which issues the “U” imprint. They service some 1,200 companies or about 80% of the business. They employ nearly 600 rabbis as part-time “checkers.” This is twice as many as ten years ago. The next largest is Rabbi Bernard Levy’s “Committee For The Furtherance of Torah Observance” which uses the “K” symbol.

Canadian Kosher products are stamped with the letters “COR” which stands for “Council of Orthodox Rabbis”. This is a front group for the powerful Canadian Jewish Congress, which actually receives all the money from this tax. The Jews in Canada are so united they do not allow any competition which is not the case in the U.S. Here a number of Orthodox rabbis have split away from the major groups to go into the kosher racket for themselves. (Why split easy money with the higher ups?) Note: This is not just a problem in the UnitedStates and Canada. All nations with an Orthodox Jewish population are being extorted this way. .. Due to NAFTA, Mexico is flooded with this problem. 100 Million Mexicans, mostly Catholic, have to pay tribute to Jews in this manner.”

 


Food for Thought: US Makes £1.2m on Kashrut

source: The Jewish Chronicle

The United Synagogue’s kashrut department has helped to boost the organisation’s coffers by recording a significantly higher than expected surplus last year.

Its profit of nearly £1.2 million in 2012 was close to £400,000 more than had been budgeted for, US council members heard on Monday.

Richard Taylor, the new US operations and finance director, said the kashrut department was “signing up many more factories across the world” for supervising products.

Overall, the US managed to increase its reserves from £72 million to £75 million last year — most of which is vested in synagogue buildings and other properties.

US president Stephen Pack said the accounts were in a “sound state” and represented a “huge turnaround” from 15 years ago when banks were “itchy” about the level of borrowings.

Alan Taylor, head of the audit committee, which scrutinises spending, found “no serious problem that worries me when I go to bed”.

But he was concerned that 26 of the 43 US constituent synagogues operated at a combined deficit of £500,000 last year — with some big communities running a deficit of up to £80,000.

A “very high number” of deficit synagogues were declining communities, Mr Pack explained. “We think we have an obligation in the US for the larger and better off communities to support some of the smaller and less well off communities, some of which are coming to the end of their days.”

While the US has built up its reserves, it has some bills ahead — loans of £2.85 million on the Chief Rabbi’s current Hamilton Terrace residence are due to be repaid before the end of next year.

Mr Pack also appealed to synagogues to send the full complement of representatives to the Board of Deputies to which they were entitled. “If we want to have a say in the Board of Deputies, then we need to punch our weight,” he said.

The US is planning to hold regular meetings of deputies who represent its synagogues.

Mr Pack also reported having “a very good meeting with my colleagues in the Federation and Spanish and Portuguese -— and in due course we may well include those [deputies] as well.”

 

The following comes from a Wikipedia article on the so-called “kosher” slaughtering of animals:

 


The Hebrew term shechita (anglicized: /ʃəxˈtɑː/; Hebrew: שחיטה ‎, [ʃχiˈta]), also transliterated shehitah, shechitah, shehita, is the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds for food according to Jewish dietary laws (Deut. 12:21, Deut. 14:21, Num. 11:22) The animal must be killed “with respect and compassion[1][2] by a shochet (Hebrew: שוחט ‎, “ritual slaughterer”), a religious Jew who is duly licensed and trained. The act is performed by severing the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and vagus nerve in a swift action using an extremely sharp blade (“chalef”) only by a qualified shochet. This results in a rapid drop in blood pressure in the brain and loss of consciousness. According to Jewish religious sources, the animal is now insensible to pain and exsanguinates in a prompt and precise action.[


And now, as promised, here’s the PETA video. In 2004, a PETA investigator went undercover at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville. This is some of what he/she saw.

 

 

 

Kosher food “tax” is a religious tax

[Kosher food and its subsequent “tax scam” is a religious matter, and therefore a religious tax imposed by a minority group of less than 2% of the population.]

USA – Frivolous Kosher law suit

08 Feb 2013

U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that hot dog maker Hebrew National was making false kosher claims because civil courts aren’t legally suited to settle matters of faith, according to court documents.
Plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed last May in Minnesota District Court contended that Hebrew National’s claim that its hot dogs were made from “Premium cuts of 100% Kosher Beef” was bunk because the company’s slaughter and inspection process didn’t comply with the tenets of Kashrut. They sought compensation for consumers who paid a premium for the “kosher” dogs.

ConAgra Foods Inc., parent company of Hebrew National, filed the motion to dismiss arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to determine the merits.

Frank agreed, noting that the plaintiffs essentially asked the court to determine the validity of the company’s kosher claim, a religious matter that the Supreme Court has barred lower courts from deciding.

“Plaintiffs suggest that Defendant has failed to comply with a somehow “objective” standard of kosher slaughter as defined by Triangle K and AER. The laws of Kashrut, however, and the determination of whether a product is in fact “kosher,” are intrinsically religious in nature,” he wrote in his order.

The plaintiffs did not sue Triangle K, the organization whose Orthodox rabbinical authority certified Hebrew National’s products as kosher, nor AER, whose employees perform the kosher slaughter for the company, Frank noted.

He concluded, “[T]he Court recognizes that its decision likely leaves consumers without a remedy — save opting not to purchase or ingest Defendant’s Hebrew National products, or other products certified by Triangle K — should the allegations in the Amended Complaint prove true.
Nevertheless, whether such products indeed are “100% kosher” is a religious question that is not the proper subject of inquiry by this Court.”

Kosher food scam answers to “a higher authority”

[Kosher food scammers fighting amongst themselves also increases the cost to all consumers. Of course, they arrogantly say they report to a higher authority. :)]

Hebrew National’s owner rejects suit’s claim that products are not up to kosher standards

By Debra Rubin · June 19, 2012

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Hebrew National boasts of “answering to a higher authority,” but several class-action lawyers are hoping to take one of the country’s largest kosher meat producers to an earthly court.

A class-action lawsuit filed recently alleges that Hebrew National’s iconic hot dogs and other meats do not comport with the brand’s claim to be kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” The suit filed May 18 in a Minnesota state court accuses ConAgra Foods, Inc., which owns the Hebrew National brand, of consumer fraud.

ConAgra, which has rejected the claims unequivocally, asked on June 6 that the suit be moved to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The company has until July 13 to respond to the complaint.

Lawyers from firms in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Minneapolis, Minn., submitted the complaint on behalf of 11 named plaintiffs.

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Hart L. Robinovitch of Zimmerman Reed, is based in Scottsdale but his firm has offices in Minnesota. Robinovitch would not say how the suit was initiated.

Zimmerman Reed, however, solicited consumers through its website, where a page until recently announced a Hebrew National investigation.

“Our firm has received troubling reports that some slaughterhouse plants supplying Hebrew National with its beef may not be upholding the strict kosher standards Hebrew National promises,” the page stated. “Workers are threatened with losing their job, or demotion, if they speak up and try to point out violations of the kosher food laws.”

The firm advertised a free case review for anyone who purchased Hebrew National hot dogs in the past two years or had information about the preparation of the products.

“The lawsuit contends that ConAgra marketed, labeled and sold Hebrew National according to the strictest standards defined by Orthodox Jews. We allege that it does not meet those standards,” Robinovitch said. “We’re certainly not alleging that they’re using pork products, or anything as blatant as that.”

The lawsuit’s 11 named plaintiffs live in various states, including California, Minnesota, New York and Arizona. JTA was unable to reach any of the individuals.

The suit, which was reported originally by the American Jewish World newspaper, is seeking monetary damages equal to the total amount of monies that consumers in the class paid for Hebrew National meat products.

Triangle-K, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based supervising agency that certifies Hebrew National products as kosher and the company that processes the kosher meat, also unequivocally rejected the allegations and contended that disgruntled former employees might be behind them.

Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, the owner of Triangle-K, said in a statement that the claims in the lawsuit were “outrageously false and defamatory.”

He added, “Those who make the false allegations know full well that because their identities are concealed and their false statements are made in a court pleading, Triangle-K and its principals cannot sue them for defamation.”

AER, which provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest, including in Minnesota, rejected the charges as well.

“The company intends to defend its reputation and good name,” AER’s president, Shlomo Ben-David, said in a statement.

Teresa Paulson, a ConAgra spokesperson, said she could not comment on pending litigation, but that the company stood by Hebrew National’s kosher status.

Neither AER nor Triangle-K is named as a defendant in the suit.

Triangle-K has been supervising Hebrew National products since 2004. The Conservative movement accepts the Triangle-K kashrut certification.

Kosher consumers choose among hundreds of companies nationwide as to which certifications they trust.

There are about 750 Orthodox kosher certifying organizations in the United States, according to Rabbi Yosef Wikler, editor of Kashrus magazine, which also maintains a website for non-Orthodox certifiers.

“Almost no kosher organization accepts 100 percent of any other kosher organization 100 percent of the time,” Wikler said.

The suit, which does not attribute the allegations to anyone by name, alleges that the Hebrew National brand was not, as the company advertises, kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox law.” As result, plaintiffs, who paid a premium price “believing the kosher title and certification made them a higher quality product than other meat products on the market” were “deprived of the value of the goods they purchased,” the complaint states.

Among the suit’s allegations:

* Knives used in the slaughtering process were nicked, preventing a clean cut mandated by kosher law;

* Organ meat was not consistently inspected after slaughter, as required for kashrut;

* The blood of slaughtered animals was not consistently removed within 72 hours, as required by kosher law;

* Managers took certificates that had been issued to trained slaughterers and replaced their names with individuals who had not been trained;

* Kosher meat was not consistently kept separate from non-kosher meat.

In his statement, Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag said, point by point, that all the allegations are false.

The suit also alleges that workers at some AER facilities, including in St. Paul, Minn., kept kosher, but would not eat the Hebrew National products. Those workers, according to the complaint, were allowed to purchase meats from “specifically selected cows [that] would be slaughtered and checked in strict accordance with all kosher laws, unlike the cows that routinely slaughtered for sale to Defendant and use in Hebrew National Products.”

AER said the allegation is misleading. According to AER, employees who eat only glatt kosher were provided meat to comply with their personal preferences.

Glatt is a higher standard of kosher and means that the lungs of the slaughtered animal are free of any blemishes. If the lungs are blemished, the meat is still considered kosher, but not glatt. Triangle-K does not claim that the products it certifies are glatt kosher.

Additionally, the suit alleges that employees involved in the kosher slaughtering process complained to AER supervisor Rabbi Moshe Fyzakov and Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, but those officials “did little or nothing to correct the transgressions. Rather, the persons making the complaints were terminated or otherwise threatened with adverse retaliation, such as job transfers to other facilities or states. In turn, non-kosher meat was delivered to ConAgra and packaged, labeled and sold to the public [including the plaintiffs in the lawsuit] as strictly 100 percent kosher.”

A Triangle-K spokesman said, “Every complaint was followed up on, and no one was disciplined for making a complaint.”

The spokesman also said it is “totally false” that non-kosher meat was delivered to ConAgra to be sold as kosher and that  “We have clear distinctions in place to prevent such happenings.”

ADVERTISEMENT: President Obama Welcomes 2,000 Jewish Leaders at BBYO’s International Convention.

Source: JTA

Kosher food too expensive for Subway restaurants

The Subway That Stops In New York

Local franchises of sandwich chain were touted as next big kosher thing. What happened?

09/20/11
Amy Spiro
Special to the Jewish Week
A kosher Subway store.
A kosher Subway store.

Less than 1 percent of all new Subway restaurants fail, according to statements from the popular sandwich chain. But in the New York area all five kosher Subway outposts — once described as the next big fad in kosher dining — have closed in the last few years, leading many to wonder if what was once the largest U.S. kosher restaurant chain was just a passing fad.

In 2008, a kosher Subway store opened on Water Street in Lower Manhattan. Six months later, it closed, and reopened as a non-kosher Subway. Locations in Westchester, Brooklyn, Long Island and, most recently, on Jewel Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, suffered a similar fate. A storefront in Livingston, N.J., closed after 15 months of operation. Locations planned for the Upper West Side and Teaneck, N.J., never came to fruition. At their peak, 12 kosher Subway locations were open in the U.S.; today only five remain.

Owners at several of the closed locations said that operating a kosher establishment within the Subway parameters proved frustrating and that added expenses made it difficult to turn a profit.

Liron Shamsiav, former owner of the Queens location, said “a combination of factors” led to his store’s closing several months ago.

In addition to other fees, franchisees pay 4.5 percent of their sales to headquarters for advertising, but “you don’t get anything from it [in] the Jewish area and the Jewish crowd,” Shamsiav said, since many of the traditional promotions (like the $5 foot-long sandwich) and menu items are not available in kosher stores.

“We had to add more advertising from our own budget,” he said, which cut in to profits already weakened by the high cost of kosher meat and New York City rent. Shamsiav said that while initially Subway headquarters were more flexible and willing to aid the kosher franchisees, they became more difficult and uncompromising as time went on.

Even outside New York, Joan Fogel had great difficulties managing her kosher Subway outpost in a suburb of Kansas City, Kan., and ultimately sold it at the end of 2010, when it reopened as a non-kosher establishment.

“We were invisible to HQ,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Jewish Week. “We were never able to get Subway to do any advertising or marketing for us, even though we paid in to the fund monthly,” she said.

Fogel, who owned and managed the restaurant with her husband Roger, said that Subway did not allow them to serve any specialty items — unlike many New York stores, which offered shwarma or other dishes not found on the traditional Subway menu. They also suffered from difficulties in acquiring kosher meat, and wildly fluctuating prices for supplies.

“We had ongoing supply problems and had no purchasing power through Subway, which we were told we would have,” said Fogel. Ultimately, though their franchise was the only kosher restaurant in the area, the couple “got tired of the uphill battles and the lack of support from Subway.”
The Chicago kosher location announced on Sept. 1 that it too was closing its doors.

“Unfortunately, Walgreens bought the strip mall where we were located,” the restaurant posted on its Facebook page. “We considered moving locations, but it took us two years to find this location and we did not want to go through the process again.” The restaurant stated that a non-kosher franchise will replace it.

Though none of the New York locations remain open, along with the Chicago and Kansas City ones, the kosher Subway experiment appears to be working in some places. Locations in Cleveland, Miami, Los Angeles and two stores in Maryland have thrived in their communities.
After watching the five New York locations come and go, Dani Klein, editor and founder of YeahThatsKosher.com, has his own theory on what doomed the metro area’s restaurants.

“It’s not just one reason; I think it probably has to do with multiple factors,” said Klein, whose website compiles kosher travel information from around the globe.

“New York has a plethora of kosher options; it takes a lot to keep a kosher establishment in business,” he said, citing three main reasons for struggles of the locations there. First, a disconnect for consumers between Subway’s national advertising versus the higher prices in kosher franchises; second, the excitement wearing off after the initial thrill of being able to eat there; and third, the fact “New York Jews know deli,” and the Subway chains pale in comparison.

Klein has eaten in the former Manhattan location and the Los Angeles store, which remains open, and said he “didn’t really see the appeal to why it was so exciting … it was OK.”

Explaining why kosher Subways are difficult to maintain, owners cite the higher cost of kosher ingredients and kosher supervision, the inability to remain open on Saturdays and the alienating of some non-kosher customers who prefer the original menu and prices.

Many of the surviving kosher locations avoid unsatisfied non-kosher consumers, since they are housed in Jewish community centers. The Cleveland, Miami and Rockville, Md., franchises all opened inside existing JCCs, guaranteeing them a steady stream of kosher-observant customers and a smaller chance of irate lunchers looking for a ham and cheese sandwich.

Housed in the Mandel JCC, in the suburb of Beachwood, business is good at the Cleveland location — the first kosher Subway in the nation.
“We get a lot of traffic from both the Jewish community and also members who are here to use the gym facilities and the pool,” said Joe Faddoul, manager of the store. “We have a lot of repeat customers, a lot of people that we see on a daily basis.”

While Faddoul was “surprised to hear” that so many stores in New York had closed, he recognizes that “there is a lot more competition there as far as kosher restaurants go.” In the Cleveland community, “there is just a handful” of kosher restaurants, he said, and several have closed over the past couple years.

A representative for Subway refused to speak to The Jewish Week about anything concerning the kosher stores, citing an ongoing lawsuit that he declined to name.

Last year, Les Winograd, a spokesman for Subway, told this reporter that while many of the kosher locations have opened and closed, each one shuts down for individual reasons, without an overarching trend. In addition, he said “we try to get [the owners] to understand that you might see a huge boost in business when you open,” he said, “but once the novelty dies away things are going to level out.”

Kosher food scam: advice for your handicapped child

Do you have a handicapped child to feed but your income can’t afford kosher food? Too bad, this rabbi says low income is not a reason to eat non-kosher food!

Name@Withheld from the UK wrote:

Dear Rabbi,How does a Jew like myself feed my disabled daughter kosher food on such a low income? The place where they sell kosher food is usually one place in a community. This is true here where I live in the UK. All kosher food is always extensively more expensive then non-kosher food. I therefore will suffer in eternal afterlife as the greed of the people who sell kosher meat know quite well that we can only get kosher meat at their place, so they charge extra, as do their wholesalers, and the Rabbis whom charge for doubling the price of sugar at Pesach (Passover) just to say a blessing.


Dear Name@Withheld,

The price of kosher products can be frustrating, and your anger is understandable. And if one is indeed in great financial difficulty, G-d takes that into account in judging the person. A low-income, however, is not a reason to eat non-kosher food. Perhaps a reader willing to offer you some concrete help or advice could contact us via e-mail: info@ohr.org.il.

The economic reality is such that in order to produce kosher food, greater care, supervision and manpower is required, as well as different and sometimes more expensive ingredients and processes.

Here’s one example: Gelatin is made from non-kosher animal bones – very available, and very cheap. Kosher food substitutes “agar-agar,” a seaweed extract that is not as common and therefore more expensive. In addition, a supervisor must be paid to make sure no unkosher ingredients are “snuck” in.

Another factor is the small size of the kosher market relative to the greater market. Producing in bulk brings down costs, so unkosher products can sometimes be produced for less.

Kosher meat has its own special requirements, from the specially trained slaughterer to the inspection for treifot (lesions, etc.) These inspections are stricter than government standards, and animals that don’t pass inspection cause a monetary loss. A special process is required for the removal of many parts, as well as salting to remove the blood. All these processes require salaried manpower.

Regarding Passover, the Rabbi does not bless the sugar. What actually happens is that a Rabbi or a supervisor oversees the production to ensure that no leavened products come in contact with the sugar. Or the machines at the sugar plant (which may also be used to process other substances not kosher for Passover) may need to be cleaned. Again, such supervision requires paying someone a salary to do it.

Furthermore, since Passover is only once a year, many Passover supervision jobs are short term, for only a few weeks or months, and require long hours. As such, few people want such jobs, so owners must offer higher salaries.

There are many foods that are kosher on the general market that can be bought at any supermarket and are not more expensive than regular products. For a complete list, I suggest that you contact the London Beth Din for their “Really Kosher Food Guide,” which should be available in any Jewish bookstore.

Source: Ohr