Robert Kaiser, a science teacher from New Hampshire with an interest in finding ethically produced kosher food, was excited when he learned of Magen Tzedek, a seal that would combine Jewish values and social justice in food production, spanning from the treatment of workers to environmental impact.
But almost four years after the Magen Tzedek Commission drafted its first standards, not one product bears the initiative’s seal. Kaiser recently voiced his complaints on the organization’s Facebook page, which displayed only two posts by the group since last May.
“Your arguments for ethical meat make a lot of sense; I agree with you,” he wrote. “Yet the four years of silence on the topic… speak volumes.”
Kaiser recently told the Forward, “When I look up what they do, I don’t see very much there. At the moment it’s a bit of a disappointment.”
Five years after the federal government’s largest ever immigration raid exposed rampant worker abuse at the country’s biggest kosher slaughterhouse, Magen Tzedek, which was meant to respond to the scandal, appears hardly more active today than Agriprocessors, the plant in Postville, Iowa, that the feds’ raid shut down. There is little evidence that the project has capitalized on the calls the scandal sparked for ethically created kosher food.
That is a far cry from what Morris Allen, Magen Tzedek’s program director, predicted in 2010. By the end of the year, he said then, 15 companies would be on board with his group’s seal. In an interview May 14, Allen told the Forward that his group is currently in talks with “three or four” companies.
Allen said he has learned not to make such bold predictions anymore.
“I don’t want to say any date, I’ve been burned too often,” he said.
But personal misjudgments by Allen — a Conservative rabbi with no prior food certification experience — are not the only reasons that Magen Tzedek remains a dream: There is also wariness toward the seal on the part of kosher meat producers.
If Morris Allen had started out giving his stamp of righteousness to non-food products, for example clothing manufactured in fair trade conditions, he would have had much more support for his efforts. But the whining, entitled little crybaby wanted a cut of that "sweet kosher endorsement money" that "the Orthodox have a monopoly of."
Mashgichim (kosher supervisors) do not make a whole bunch of money. They get paid about the same as anyone else in the food service industry, which is to say, bupkies. Also, they have EXPERIENCE in what is required to maintain standards of halachic kashrus, something that Morris Allen knows very little about since he has made up his "all new" set of standards but want to use the old-fashioned word "kosher" thereby creating confusion. Kosher food producers wanted to avoid mixing "answering to a higher authority" with Morris Allen's "right" to have his logo on stuff.
Since he knows nothing about kosher food production, what exactly is it that he is going to monitor with his stamp of approval? "Ethical business practices"? What exactly does that even mean? Does this mean that he is an accountant and HR manager who will have intimate access to the payroll, employee time sheets and accounting books? What business, that already has a staff of accountants and HR professionals AND FREAKING LAWYERS, would even want this busybody, who is not even an IRS employee, examining their confidential records?