The problems with the Lubavitch


Lubavitch…to fruit or not to fruit?
September 11, 2008, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Just plain stupid, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

http://www.northjersey.com/news/Some_local_Jews_boycotting_strawberries.html

“Some local Jews boycotting strawberries “

Last updated: Wednesday August 27, 2008, EDT 12:56 AM

BY MEREDITH MANDELL

Staff Writer

The strawberry: luscious, red, juicy — and now forbidden fruit in some of North Jersey’s Jewish communities.

Some rabbis have issued edicts classifying the fruit on market shelves as unclean and therefore in violation of Jewish dietary law.
The culprit: small bugs called thrips and aphids attracted to strawberries and a variety of vegetables.

The controversy, which began with local edicts that have affected Jewish enclaves in the cities of Passaic, Teaneck and Lakewood, has ripened into lively discussion worldwide in cyberspace. It’s also produced a lively debate about the limits of kosher law governing fresh produce.

Despite assurances from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations— the largest consortium of Orthodox congregations in the world — that cleaning strawberries with soap will rid them of bugs, many in Passaic Park’s Orthodox Jewish community, for instance, are sticking with a boycott.

The Kosher Konnection grocery store on Main Avenue and local caterers say they’ve plucked the red berries from fruit platters served at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings.

The same goes at Main Ingredient on Main Avenue, where Daniel Strimber, owner of the kosher caterer, says, “I’ll use grapes, fresh papaya, or star fruit instead — anything that lends color.” Strimber said he stopped serving the sweet fruit on orders from his “meshgiah,” the Yiddish word for a rabbi who is a kosher supervisor.

The pesky little insects are hard to spot because in colder environments, like a refrigerator, they burrow inside berries to keep warm, kosher supervisors say. The size of a small freckle, these pests are often hard to spot. Jewish dietary laws, based on Leviticus, ban consumption of live insects the naked eye can see.

“All winged swarming things that go upon all fours are a detestable thing unto you,” an English translation of Leviticus Chapter One reads.

Rabbi Daniel A. Senter, a Kashrus administrator for the Teaneck-based KOF-K, a multinational kosher supervision company, holds seminars at schools, Jewish community centers and synagogues to show people the “flying creepy crawlers” because, he says, “Seeing is believing.”

On Monday, Senter, 44, set up a microscope in the conference room of his office and pointed out a yellow thrip scampering across the seeds of a ripe strawberry and a close-up of an aphid, magnified 30 times its size. Science aside, Senter looked at the berries longingly.

“My problem is, I like strawberry shortcake and everything else,” he said.

On the Internet, religious rabbis who have banned consumption of the fruit include members of the ultra- Orthodox religious tribunal, Keddasia Beth Kadin in London.

In 2007, rabbis from the Orthodox Union met with industry experts in Lakewood and checked strawberries from a variety of sources to decide if the ban was needed or if a legitimate cleaning method could be found. The Union ultimately decided to issue cautionary instructions for proper cleaning.

Rabbi David Bistricer a New-York based kosher supervisor for the Orthodox Union, said the concern about the cleanliness of produce has always existed.

“People always checked their produce — my ancestors in Europe definitely checked their lettuce,” Bistricer said.

Most shoppers coming out of Kosher Konnection on Tuesday said they’d stopped eating the berries.

“Because of the bug issue, we just avoid them,” said one woman, who did not want to be named.

Meshgiahs (pronounced Mesh-gee-ahs) said that in the United States, a ban on pesticides like DTD, along with an increased number of imported fruits and vegetables available in supermarkets and sharp climate changes, is fueling increased concerns about insects in fresh produce. But, whether the rabbis’ decrees are valid or excessive is still up |for debate in the Jewish community.

When someone posted a message on Passaicjews.com warning Orthodox Jews against the berries, angry e-mail ensued.
“Do we as a community need to find ways to invalidate all the small pleasures in life?” asked one resident, Motti Schleider.

Passaic resident Tamar Hollander, who describes herself as modern Orthodox, wonders why the sudden concern over strawberries when for thousands of years religious Jews have enjoyed the luscious fruit without a worry.

“It gets to the point of absurdity,” said Hollander, 51, who last week was scrubbing them in soap before serving them up for her daughter’s birthday. “I’ve never seen the bugs, but then again I don’t have a magnifying glass.”

The strawberry: luscious, red, juicy — and now forbidden fruit in some of North Jersey’s Jewish communities.

CHRIS PEDOTA /STAFF

Rabbi Daniel Senter, using a light and magnifier to look for bugs on strawberries.

Some rabbis have issued edicts classifying the fruit on market shelves as unclean and therefore in violation of Jewish dietary law.
The culprit: small bugs called thrips and aphids attracted to strawberries and a variety of vegetables.

The controversy, which began with local edicts that have affected Jewish enclaves in the cities of Passaic, Teaneck and Lakewood, has ripened into lively discussion worldwide in cyberspace. It’s also produced a lively debate about the limits of kosher law governing fresh produce.

Despite assurances from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations— the largest consortium of Orthodox congregations in the world — that cleaning strawberries with soap will rid them of bugs, many in Passaic Park’s Orthodox Jewish community, for instance, are sticking with a boycott.

The Kosher Konnection grocery store on Main Avenue and local caterers say they’ve plucked the red berries from fruit platters served at Bar Mitzvahs and weddings.

The same goes at Main Ingredient on Main Avenue, where Daniel Strimber, owner of the kosher caterer, says, “I’ll use grapes, fresh papaya, or star fruit instead — anything that lends color.” Strimber said he stopped serving the sweet fruit on orders from his “meshgiah,” the Yiddish word for a rabbi who is a kosher supervisor.

The pesky little insects are hard to spot because in colder environments, like a refrigerator, they burrow inside berries to keep warm, kosher supervisors say. The size of a small freckle, these pests are often hard to spot. Jewish dietary laws, based on Leviticus, ban consumption of live insects the naked eye can see.

“All winged swarming things that go upon all fours are a detestable thing unto you,” an English translation of Leviticus Chapter One reads.

Rabbi Daniel A. Senter, a Kashrus administrator for the Teaneck-based KOF-K, a multinational kosher supervision company, holds seminars at schools, Jewish community centers and synagogues to show people the “flying creepy crawlers” because, he says, “Seeing is believing.”

On Monday, Senter, 44, set up a microscope in the conference room of his office and pointed out a yellow thrip scampering across the seeds of a ripe strawberry and a close-up of an aphid, magnified 30 times its size. Science aside, Senter looked at the berries longingly.

“My problem is, I like strawberry shortcake and everything else,” he said.

On the Internet, religious rabbis who have banned consumption of the fruit include members of the ultra- Orthodox religious tribunal, Keddasia Beth Kadin in London.

In 2007, rabbis from the Orthodox Union met with industry experts in Lakewood and checked strawberries from a variety of sources to decide if the ban was needed or if a legitimate cleaning method could be found. The Union ultimately decided to issue cautionary instructions for proper cleaning.

Rabbi David Bistricer a New-York based kosher supervisor for the Orthodox Union, said the concern about the cleanliness of produce has always existed.

“People always checked their produce — my ancestors in Europe definitely checked their lettuce,” Bistricer said.

Most shoppers coming out of Kosher Konnection on Tuesday said they’d stopped eating the berries.

“Because of the bug issue, we just avoid them,” said one woman, who did not want to be named.

Meshgiahs (pronounced Mesh-gee-ahs) said that in the United States, a ban on pesticides like DTD, along with an increased number of imported fruits and vegetables available in supermarkets and sharp climate changes, is fueling increased concerns about insects in fresh produce. But, whether the rabbis’ decrees are valid or excessive is still up |for debate in the Jewish community.

When someone posted a message on Passaicjews.com warning Orthodox Jews against the berries, angry e-mail ensued.
“Do we as a community need to find ways to invalidate all the small pleasures in life?” asked one resident, Motti Schleider.

Passaic resident Tamar Hollander, who describes herself as modern Orthodox, wonders why the sudden concern over strawberries when for thousands of years religious Jews have enjoyed the luscious fruit without a worry.

“It gets to the point of absurdity,” said Hollander, 51, who last week was scrubbing them in soap before serving them up for her daughter’s birthday. “I’ve never seen the bugs, but then again I don’t have a magnifying glass.”

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