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Jewess » Newsflash: Women Can Be Trusted To Keep Kitchens Kosher

Newsflash: Women Can Be Trusted To Keep Kitchens Kosher


by Rebecca Honig Friedman

I should read Kosher Today more regularly. It really does provide great insight into trends in the kosher supervision industry and kosher-keeping community. From this week’s issue (it really should be called Kosher This Week) I have learned that in the current economic crisis, women are on the prowl for recipes more than ever (i.e. that one woman’s recession is Susie Fishbein’s goldmine) and that women are acceptable kosher supervisors.

Not only can we Jewesses successfully learn how to check our vegetables for bugs (which these days is more important than making sure meat is kosher, apparently — a 90-minute video on bug inspection??? Jesus!), we can also be trusted to be full-on mashgichot (kosher supervisors), if the Star-K is to be believed. They’re relying on a ruling by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, so it must be true. As if women hadn’t been keeping kitchens kosher for thousands of years centuries*…:

The Star-K Kashrus agency is planning its first ever training event for women as kosher supervisors (mashgichot). The major Baltimore, MD based agency currently runs a men’s seminar each year, although it is geared mostly to Rabbanim and the heads of kashrus agencies. The planned women’s conference in the Fall, is for women that serve as mashgichot in the food service industry, mostly at catering halls and restaurants. The program will teach proper procedures for checking vegetables -[again with the vegetables! -RHF], explain the dynamics of the kitchen, review policies and procedures, and draw attention to specific issues mashgichot should to be aware of. The seminar will also include trips to various facilities for a more “hands-on” approach.

Here’s what I want to know: why are women who are already serving as mashgichot not already well-versed in “the proper procedures for checking vegetables” and all the rest? And, for that matter, why are the heads of kashrus agencies in need of these seminars? I suppose it’s always good to hone one’s skills and continue one’s professional development, but isn’t checking one head of lettuce for bugs like checking all the rest?

Alright, so I’m giving them a hard time. But this article actually beings up some interesting points, like that smaller, “far-away” (from New York?) communities are more likely to use women as mashgichot (the same way they’re more likely to have women as Federation leaders?):

Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld, a Kashrus Administrator at the Star-K, explained that the conference is designed to help smaller, far-away communities, which may rely on women mashgichot more heavily than cities with larger kosher infrastructures where there is an ample supply of men mashgichim.

And that women are often better at the job than men:

“Women are often more meticulous in their supervision,” said Rabbi Kurcfeld. “Even the slightest deviation will not be tolerated, which is a tremendous plus.” Rabbi Kurcfeld also explained that although one might expect women to have a harder time gaining respect in the kitchen, that is not the case. “You are only as good as who you are—you either have it or you don’t,” he said. “If you present yourself in a way that shows you are knowledgeable, sensible and have integrity, the workers will sense that.” “Besides,” he added, “who do you think takes care of the personal hashgacha in the home of Rav Heinemann (referring to Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, the Rabbinic Administrator of the Star-K)?”

My point exactly.

[hat tip: Medad]

*@religion_state points out that thousands might be an overstatement.

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