Thursday, October 02, 2008

Conversion / The cost of Kosher Food

The Justice Minister in Israel has tried to force the Chief Rabbi from converting foreigners who wish to become Jews.His reason is that Israel will be labeled a "Proselytyzing Nation",and that the applicants would use that mode to gain Israeli citizenship.
Over a 5 year period about 160 conversions have taken place,and only 3 have requested citizenship.
It appears that the Justice Ministry has better things to do than harrass Chief Rabbi Amar, on what is strictly a religious issue.

It is wonderful that kosher products are so plentiful.Thanks to the OU, and other certifications the list grows.Of course we are still in the midst of a controversy over working conditions,which is a civil,criminal and moral issue that is being addressed.
However living among many retired Jews, most of them not orthodox,there is a perennial problem that often is talked about but rarely addressed.
I refer to the cost of kosher food,especially meat.Twice in recent weeks, my wife was in the kosher market in Boca Raton.She overheard almost the identical conversation on both occasions.A woman is complaining about the cost of meat,and says she will shop at a store in Delray,about 10-15 minutes away by car, owned by the same owners,but under Conservative "hashgacha". The friend retorts,"but the meat there is not glatt,or the same standards". Both times,the answer is"yes,but I can't AFFORD THIS".
Even with non meat products,I find that most often kosher canned or packaged products are cheaper in the non-kosher supermarket,a little more expensive in a store either without a hashgacha or with a conservative supervision and much more expensive in the "glatt" store.
Some products like gefilte fish,can have a differential of 1-2 dollars.
Obviously certifying agencies cannot fix prices.However,before holidays they should both sample shop in the community,and prevent price gouging on a public that has "NO CHOICE".
There might be a time when rabbanim will have to say 'NO MEAT FROM SUN TO FRIDAY UNTIL THE PRICES COME DOWN"
These are tough times for many individuals,and Rabbis and Certifying agencies,especially local ones, have a special responsibility.