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Minnesota - Conservetive Heksher Tzedek Guidelines for Kosher Food Released

Published on: August 1, 2008 08:00 AM
By: The Forward By Marissa Brostoff
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Rabbi Morris AllenRabbi Morris Allen

Minnesota - A group of Conservative rabbis has released long-awaited guidelines for a program that aims to monitor and certify working conditions in kosher food production.

The guidelines for the Hekhsher Tzedek  program, as it is known, are wide-ranging, with sections devoted to labor standards, the treatment of animals, corporate transparency and environmental impact. In order to evaluate a company’s performance in those categories, the Hekhsher Tzedek commission will consider whether it is in compliance with a number of pre-existing industry and government standards, as well as some standards specific to the commission.

Rabbi Morris Allen, project director of Hekhsher Tzedek, told the Forward that he hoped to see the first wave of products endorsed with the commission’s hekhsher, or stamp of approval, by Rosh Hashana of next year.


“We believe that in the next month, we will be involved in serious discussions with players in the kosher food industry around these issues,” Allen said.

Typically, Orthodox rabbis have run kosher certification in the United States and have charged for their services. Allen suggested that there would be costs for companies that want a certification from Hekhsher Tzedek.

Allen’s commission formed in 2006 after a group of Conservative rabbi responded to complaints about the working conditions at the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa. Since that plant was the target of a federal immigration raid this past May, Allen has been one of the most outspoken critics of the company, Agriprocessors, and its labor practices. In the background, Allen and his group have been putting together standards for the certification since winning the endorsement of the Conservative movement’s governing bodies last year.

KLD Research & Analytics — a Boston-based consulting firm that advises companies on socially responsible investing — helped to compile Hekhsher Tzedek’s guidelines and will assist the commission in analyzing a company’s compliance.

Many in the Orthodox world have been skeptical of Hekhsher Tzedek, arguing that ethical issues should not be tacked on to the age-old system of kosher laws

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Read Comments (43)  —  Post Yours »


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:10 AM Anonymous Says:

The irony of this is that most "Conservative" Jews don't even keep kosher!


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:13 AM knows a farce when sees one Says:

Will this hekshaw have a mashgiach temidi or a yotzei venichnas?


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:20 AM Anonymous Says:

how can a Conservative rabbi (what makes him a rabbi anyways) give a hechsher when he dosent keep kosher!!?? PLEASE SOMEONE ANSWER


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:29 AM YS-DP-UA Says:


I think we should boycott any products that carry this leftist, anti-Torah seal. I suspect that the only ones who will go for it will be the goofy granola type (organic etc) firms whose kashrus certification is not up to par for most frum consumers in any case.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:53 AM Torah Jew Says:

This is DISGUSTING... Conservative Movement just wants to make some MONEY and challenge the Orthodox. Conservative Hehksher should be called " Hehksher Shunda", "Hehksher Chazzer" or maybe "Hehksher Treyf"


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:56 AM David Says:

Are there any other parts of the Torah that they want to re-write?


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:57 AM A FRUM MINNESOTAN Says:

Hechsher I need TAX FREE MONEY.........


 Aug 01, 2008 at 08:59 AM Der Nister Says:

If R. Allen is so convinced of the ligitimacy of his hechsher tzedek on Halachik grounds, how about we serve him a hazmanah to Beth Din and see how it turns out?


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:08 AM Anonymous Says:

FYI...reform jews do not keep kosher. A lot of conservative jews keep kosher outside their homes, but most keep kosher in their homes. Please do not ask me the logic behind this....I have no clue.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:15 AM yitzy Says:

Anonymous Says:
how can a Conservative rabbi (what makes him a rabbi anyways) give a hechsher when he dosent keep kosher!!?? PLEASE SOMEONE ANSWER
08-01-2008 - 8:20 AM
And how do u know first hand that he does not keep kosher . What do u care anyway if you are mechallel shem shamayim and mechallel shabbos and eat trefos. If This RABBI wants this then its his buisness\. You dont like it than dont join him


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:19 AM anonymous Says:

Mr. Morris Allen should just hook up with Triangle K


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:29 AM deepthinker Says:

Conservatism has no Halachic standards.

This is a joke.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:35 AM yenta pesha Says:

rabbi allen morris . if you aren't kosher, your whole hasgacha is certified by the klal yisoel as non kosher @ no yearly fee!!!!! who are u foooling. u are from a differnet religion!!!
if u think u are acting jewish,its all a fake.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Nothing wrong with this - Of course in addition to
Orthodox Kashrus Certification.
There are people out there that want businesses to be run honestly and want to patronise them - Kol Hakovod.
I personally don't care about the whole Rubashkin
illegal workers etc. I ONLY care about that they should have a reliable top of the line Hechsher.
But it's a big world out there and I commend those
that want Glatt YOSHOR as well - There is no reason not to trust Conservative Rabbis in that aspect (im MHO).


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:42 AM Anon1 Says:

They have long criticized the "Orthodox" for charging for a hechsher, yet they plan on charging.

Is it morally accepted to charge for a seal?? Would that not open one up to bribery?


 Aug 01, 2008 at 09:57 AM SIGNIFICANCE Says:

What is most disturbing is that now we have to qualify what Kosher is... You wont be able to go to a deli that says they are kosher any longer, you will have to ask who gives the hehksher. Sure there are different orthodox hehkshers but most orthodox would accept different orthodox hehksher but NONE would accept conservative.

This reminds me of the question: Who is a Jew? Three hundred years ago a yid was a yid; only orthodox or secular. Now we have to ask because of the conservative and reform movements "new halacha." I would venture to say that almost half of the reform movement is goy since they follow patrilineal descent and there conversions consist of learning a few hebrew words and getting dunked in a hot tub. The conservative movement has now begun to muddy the waters of Kashrus. Shame on them... may Hashem measure to them what is just in his eyes...


 Aug 01, 2008 at 10:25 AM Anonymous Says:

"Now we'll have to check who's giving the hechsher"
Huh ? You mean that you/we haven't been doing that
anyway. There are many non reliable hecsherim out there by conservative/"orthodox" rabbis.
You always need to know who's giving the hechsher
I believe this will be a new type of "hechsher"
i.e. hechsher "TZEDEK" meaning only that the business is being run honestly and abiding by all
dina d'malchusa laws. This hechsher would by no means supercede a halachic Kosher certification as we know it.
I could see where let's say a Reform jew would
be makpid on this and not care wheather it is
Kosher. So for example you could have a Hechsher
Tzedek on Boars Head Ham without any problems.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 10:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Anon 9:08
The reason they eat treif outside and kosher at home is because they want their kitchens to go to Gan Eiden even if they go to Gehennom


 Aug 01, 2008 at 10:29 AM BEEN THERE Says:

Are they going to send their "mashgichim" all over the world to see that all ingrediants in products carrying their seal are produced in factories that meet their wage,benefit and work condition standard? I would assume that anything coming out of China would fail their test.

Why don't the extend this new "halacha" to products other than food? How can they wear clothes produced in 3rd world counties by children? Are the groundskeepers who groom their golf courses given a fair wage and benefits? If we can apply Halacha to every aspect of our lives, they should apply this new "halacha" to theirs

This is just an effort to try and attract compassionate people to their dwindling movement, where adherence to Halacha is optional.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 10:43 AM YS-DP-UA Says:


This is not yashrus or tzedek. The movement that was supported by Ivan Boesky and others of his ilk knows nothing of this.

This is about left wing redistribution of wealth socialism - Morris Allen and Hugo Chavez have much in common.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 11:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Just wondering if they don't charge- who will pay the certifiers salaries.
Also does a product have to be kosher as well to receive this hechsher or is it only based on humane standards?


 Aug 01, 2008 at 11:43 AM Ploni Says:

As per thier website http://hekhshertzedek.org/involved.html they have been around since 2006 so in 2 years what food product has used thier soe called Hechsher?.

Ploni Ben Ploni


 Aug 01, 2008 at 12:05 PM ZEITUNG Says:

Anonymous 08-01-2008 - 10:27 AM
"The reason they eat treif outside and kosher at home is because they want their kitchens to go to Gan Eiden even if they go to Gehennom"

That is a disgusting remark!

Ever hear of the saying "Ah Pinteleh Yid"?
even the smallest mitzvah by a Yid should be commended and not disparaged!
Mitzvah Goreres Mitzvah


 Aug 01, 2008 at 12:17 PM Yedidiah Says:

The level of vitriol being flung about is distressing. In the measure with which a man measures, so is he measured. At best, some of these comments are lashon hara. Some seem more like motzi shem ra.

Some conservative Jews eat treyf outside and kosher at home, but others keep kosher in AND outside of the home, in accordance with Orthodox standards. I know a reform rabbi, and his reform family, who keeps kosher in and outside of the home.

The proposed Hekhsher Tzedek doesn't supercede an orthodox hekhsher, and if you don't wish to buy a product with a hekhsher from Hekhsher Tzedek, by all means, don't. There is no reason why Hekhsher Tzedek's existence or non-existence should have any effect on you.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 12:49 PM CK Says:

Yedidah, I couldn't agree with you more about the tone of some of these comments. Just because you don't agree or even respect the opinions of Conservative Judaism, doesn't mean you shouldn't be tolerant and civil.

The real problem with non-Orthodox Halachik Hechsherim is they lead some ignorant companies to believe they are paying for capturing the entire Kosher market, and they decline to use more universally accepted hechsherim. However, if the competition forces Orthodox hechsherim to consider halachic ethical issues more stringently - well, more power to them.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 12:50 PM Drill Here!!! Drill Now!!! Save Money!!! Says:

Dear #11,

Although the hechsher you mentioned is not one that most 'frum' people use & for good reason, you have no right to compare the Ralbags who are shomray torah u'mitzvos with mr. allen. Rabbi Ralbag is an odom gadol when it comes to gittin and other areas of halocha.

Perhaps the standards they use at Tri-K are not what you would want to use but they ARE rooted in halocha.

Who knows if one day they will bring up their standards of kashrus just like KOAOA (half moon K) did and is now acceptable.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 02:09 PM ryan Says:

gentlemen, There is no reason not to have moral Hechshers for Glatt too. But the saying "oif dem ganif brent der hittel"- Majority of Conservative
rabbis and cantors do not keep Kosher even among their GAY Rabbis.
So whom are they addressing the dying amt of constituents still keeping kosher at home but eating treif outside. So as far as their so called hechsher "let the Moslems listen to it" because their people are mostly treifa eating jews whom we hope will keep all the torah and mitzvahs including the conservative and reform jews someday. Like who the heck do they have in eretz yisroel- almost nothing! They will bring the
dying aasimilation to Israel as their bottom line is in America". Zei zenen oif gehakte tzuris! so don't hak us a chynick with yopur hechsher!


 Aug 01, 2008 at 02:14 PM Moshe Says:

Drill Here,

What is the "good reason" that "frum" people do not use Triangle-K? Your posting is more motse shem ra to R. Ralbag than the the prior posting which did not mention him by name. Yes, they certify non-glatt meat (which I chose not to buy), e.g., Hebrew National, but is that a reason to treat them as posel treif? By all accounts they considerably improved the kashrus standards when they took over H.N. On a separate note, I was happy to see that you noted that the Half Moon K has taken action to bring its hasgocho up to community standards.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 03:30 PM Yedidiah Says:

Uh huh. So, now we bring gay and lesbian rabbis into the mix as well?

Seems to me that your main argument, Ryan, is not that you are against Hekhsher Tzedek but against the conservative moment in general.

"It is certain that the sins of the angry man outweighs his merits."-Nedarim 22b.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 03:53 PM Drill Here!!! Drill Now!!! Save Money!!! Says:


I was not meaning to CHV say anything bad about Tri-k, rather I was pointing out that mr allen and Tri-k weren't even in the same league.

As for HMK, knowing most of their new staff has been very beneficial. They give hashgocha to so many products that are quite delicious.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 04:34 PM Anonymous Says:

I just want to know what his plumba looks like so I know what NOT to buy.

What a hypocrite!!

Choteh u'machateh es horabim; oiver al lifnei eevair; v'ossid litein es ha'din.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 06:37 PM fern chasida Says:

I don't understand what everyone is so up in arms about. There are already tens (if not more) of hechshers of which a large percentage are not accepted by most orthodox Jews. So now they'll be another one. Big deal.


 Aug 01, 2008 at 06:49 PM Anonymous Says:

so... whats kosher?


 Aug 01, 2008 at 07:02 PM Anonymous Says:

As far as they are concerned Ocar Meyer is kosher. And what does a conservative (fake rabbi) know about kosher anyway, he is lucky he knows how to make a Brucha. One of them I heard about in Birmingham Alabama plays the guitar on Shabbos for prayer services. And we need their seal of approval.


 Aug 02, 2008 at 10:57 AM Yedidiah Says:

Nice, anonymous. I'm particularly impressed by your courage in hiding behind a nom de plume. You're bashing all conservative rabbis based on one rabbi, that you HEARD about. Once again, I ask if the prohibitions against gossip apply only within the Orthodox community? Talk about your basic hypocrisy...


 Aug 02, 2008 at 04:20 PM YS-DP-UA Says:


The first product which should have the hechsher "tzedek" is Citgo gasoline, owned by the nationalized Venezuelan oil producer. After all Chavez gave subsidized heating oil to the poor last winter.............

Another one would be Cuban cigars, made by progressive state owned factories who treat their workers oh, so well, but they ain't legal in the US, so I'll be burning that hechsher tzedek every time I light a Cohiba here in Europe. Oh, well, too bad I gave up cigars!


 Aug 02, 2008 at 11:22 PM AMG Says:

As a person who has first hand information about the kosher meat industry I could say without any doubt that most Shochtim are treated teribly by their bosses and most of the orthodox rabis who are involved in meat supervison know about it and make no attemt to do anything about it therefore if the conservatives being involved would help the situation it should be welcomed as it is well known the Conservatives take good care of their rabbis.
I would like to end off with a short story there was once an orthodox rabbi who wanted
to save his boss a few dollars so he told his shochtim he thought up a new stringency instead of the shochtim going home every week to see their families they should go home every three months to see their families because if they they go home less frequently they would concentrate better when they check their knives.


 Aug 03, 2008 at 11:05 PM moishe Says:

i dont think the triangle k is not accepted due to certifying non glat meat---rav landau who is concidered the best hashgocho worldwide has glat and kosher meat- in israel its known as red label and green label. i wish to hear from somebody first hand whats the real reason it is not accepted by the heimishe and even by the regular orthodox


 Aug 04, 2008 at 01:24 AM Avrum Baruch Says:

Now I understand why the 2nd Temple was destroyed. You should all be ashamed yourselves.


 Aug 13, 2008 at 02:16 AM Anonymous Says:

Thank you fellow bloggers for the most enjoyable stuff I have read in a while. I am glad to be in company that also has issues with this Conservative hechsher. I believe it is insincere, designed to boost the standing of a failing Jewish movement. This rabbis is a vegan hypocrite who most likely never ate glatt and obviously knows nothing about shechita and the meat industry. If possible, I will make sure NOT to buy whatever they endorse. b"h at least it won't be on my Agri meat!

Gee, I wonder if he eats veggies from Florida and California - I understand they have their share of illegals doing the pickin'! Perhaps somebody should check to see if his house is deserving of his hechsher as well (no products made in China, Malaysia, Honduras...yeah right).


 Aug 13, 2008 at 04:47 AM sherri Says:

Anonymous is on to something!!! You know the people in glass houses thing. I am sure, his, as well as all of our vegitabls come from (organic or not) farms that use undocumented labor. I am also sure that every Jew with all their well intentions have clothes in the closet made in China, face it everything is made there. I am a shop keeper that spends my day trying to find product made in the USA, good luck. We all depend on products made by cheap foreign labor. Our economy does not allow for a middle class to survive otherwise. People need to re evaluate, the Kosher from the Krazy! The meat is Kosher by every standard, this rabbi is in my opinion throwing stones. Is he looking to start a new business for himself, being the one in "charge" of the certification, I hear there is big bucks involved.
I am a reform Jew who also enjoys an Arons Hot Dog from time to time (they are the best after all)


 Aug 20, 2008 at 08:30 PM Tomer Says:

No sherri, Anonymous is not on to anything but lashon hara`. I have eaten non-vegan at R' Allen's table, for starters. Beyond that, while I find the man to be disagreeable personally, to impute the motivations to hekhsher tzedeq (an idea I agree with in principle, but not with the way this whole drama is unfolding) to an attempt to bolster the C movt, faltering or otherwise, is intellectual dishonesty inasmuch as it is a blatant and unsupported attack on R' Allen and the C movt w/o any relevance to the subject at hand. The lashon hara` and sinath chinam are unbecoming to both "Anonymous" and to this message board and its moderators, since they obviously let this baseless vitriol pass through their filters.

What has gotten lost in this whole fracas is the fact that, if the allegations made by the FDA against Agriprocessors in their indictment are true, Morris Allen, regardless of how abrasive or arrogant or vegetarian or non-orthodox he may be, _is right_. KAJ and the OU are the ones who _should_ be enforcing the ethical standards that this "hekhsher tzedek" is designed to enforce, because while proper shchita is required for meat to be kosher, part of proper shchita is that it be performed by a tzadiq.


 Aug 28, 2008 at 06:04 AM My .02 Says:


To the best of my understanding the reason why TRi-K is not so trusted is because Rabbi Ralbag relies on a psak that he got from R' Chaim Ozer regarding a certain type of commonly used cooking oil that was processed together with non-kosher stuff but R' Chaim Ozer said that it did not mix and was kosher - or something like that. Since R' Chaim Ozer's time a new way of processing this oil has been invented that does not involve any non-kosher stuff. While the OU and other hechsheirim adopted this new process as their standard Rabbi Ralbag did not because R' Chaim Ozer did not say it was a problem at all... So we don't use Tri-K because it follows a psak of R' Chaim Ozer - pretty crazy huh!?


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