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April 12, 2013

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 12, 2013 " PAGE 17A Kosher scandals like Doheny are rare, but not unheard of' By Gil Shefler NEW YORK (JTA)--Less than a day before 'the start of Passover, the phone rang at the Brooklyn home of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky. On the line were concerned members of the Rabbinical Council of California, a rabbinical as- sociation in Los Angeles that provides kosher certification, among other services. The RRC had just discov- ered that Mike Engelman, the owner of Doheny Glatt Kosher Meats, had smuggled uncerti- fled meat into his store, and the West Coast rabbis needed the guidance of their East Coast colleague. "It was obvious to all of us that we needed an unbiased decision from an expert out- side the community, with vast knowledge and experi- ence, to give an authoritative decision that the members of this community would rely upon," Rabbi Avrohom Union, the rabbinic administrator of the RCC, told JTA in an email. Now Belsky, a well:re- spected arbiter of religious law, had a big decision on his plate. If he determined all the meat was tainted, observant Angelenos may have been forced to toss all the foods they prepared for Passover, which started on the evening of March 25. "People would have been served salad on Passover night," said Rabbi Meyer May, the RRC president. After weighing the infor- mation, Belsky made a ruling: All meat sold prior to March 24, the day news of the alleged transgressions came to light, was kosher--even though a small portion was not prop- erly certified. Passover was saved--barely. Kosher violations like this are rare but not unheard of. News emerges occasion- ally that a trusted vendor sold clients food that either intentionally or unintention- ally did not comply with the strict dietary stipulations of Jewish law. Police in London in 1928 had to prevent an angry mob from storming a cafe that sold unkosher meat as kosher. In 1986, a court fined Rachleff Kosher Provisions in Brook- lyn more than $1 million for selling thousands of pounds of non-kosher tongue and brisket. In 2006, in one of the worst violations in recent memory, Shevach Meats, a supermarket in the largely Orthodox community of Monsey, N.Y., was discovered to have intentionally sold non-kosher items to its un- suspecting clientele. Some rabbis in Monsey and nearby Spring Valley-- though not all--told fol- lowers they had to remake their kitchens as kosher, an arduous process that involves boiling pots and pans and passing utensils over an open lame. Some kitchenware that comes into contact with unkosher food is considered irredeemable and thrown out. "It was extremely shocking because many, many people really viewed this grocery as the most reliable place to get your chicken," said Rikki Davidson, a 28-year-old homemaker from Monsey. "All the caterers purchased chicken from him." What exactly happened at Doheny Market is still unclear. On March 12, Engel- man was caught on vi.deotape directing his employees to unload boxes of meat from his car while the market's kosher supervisor was absent. Engel- man reportedly claimed the meat wasn't unkosher, just not glatt - a higher kosher standard. But the RRC revoked the shop's kosher certification on March 24 and the U.S. De- partment of Agriculture has launched an investigation. Within days, the market was sold to businessman Shlomo Rechnitz, Belsky's son-in-law, who vowed to ensure it strictly complied with dietary laws. Still, foPthe untold num- bers who bought meat from Engelman, the scandal con- stituted a profound betrayal of trust. "I'd say hello to Engelman if I saw him on the street, but I would not invite him to dinner," said May, who also is the executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "I don't have people I don't trust in my life." Avrom Pollak, the president of Star K, a kosher certifier in Baltimore, said his outfit frequently dealt with clients who tried to cut corners. His supervisors recently caught a caterer trying to sell non- kosher turkey to clients. "The rabbi remembered the kosher butchers in the area don't kill turkeys that size," Pollak said. "We asked to see the invoices and saw the top was torn off, so the name was not available." Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of the Orthodox Union's Kosher Division, the largest kosher certifier in the world, said his organization was looking at new technol- ogy to help uphold dietary regulations. "Over the last few months we've been talking to people about whether products .at slaughterhouses can be given a unique label," he said. "There is a specific scanner that will be able to check each number assigned to each piece of meat." The RCC said Doheny Market will reopen with new management and increased scrutiny over the next couple of days. Still, May said even with the best practices in place, errors can occur. "Greed exists in the world, so you always have the po- tential for it and anyone can circumvent the system and make a little bit of money," he said. "The system was very good and exceeded the national standard. Butwe had a human failure." Yes, you can hike in a wheelchair . Making the great outdoors accessible to all. :ByAbigailKleinLeichman organization that leads its Thirty years ago, Israeli hiker AmosZiv observed a group of visually impaired teens out on a nature trail. They were having a rough time of it, and Ziv decided the only solution was for him to find a way for people with disabilities to experience the great outdoors safely and enjoyably. That's the story behind LOTEM, a nonprofit organi- zation that now serves about 30,000 Israelis every year through a range of nature clubs and outdoor programs geared to children and adults with physical, communica- tion and intellectual disor- ders, and hearing and vision impairment. It also serves at-risk populations includ- ing women and children liv- ing in temporary shelters in refuge from domestic abuse. The organization runs a one-of-a-kind ecological farm in Emek HaShalom (Valley of Peace) near the northern city of Yokneam, where people with disabili- ties participate in seasonal activities such as pressing grapes and olives, as well as drawing well water and baking pita. Together with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), LOTEM built Israel's only fully accessible circular hiking trail, situated in the picturesque Galilee region of Nahal HaShofet, in 2002. And it's not only for Is- raelis. LOTEM works with special-needs groups from abroad such as Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, an American own Birthright trip to Israel. At Emek HaShalom, ped- ple with disabilities can press olives and grapes. "We're the experts in the field of accessible hikes, so it's really something we'll be working to expand." says JNF-LOTEM liaison Alisa Bodner. She also arranges free "Inclusive Israel" day trips for visiting individuals or families--able-bodied or not--to learn about LOTEM and experience a different side of Israel. "When we make our tours accessible, it's not only phys- ical accessibility but also pedagogic accessibility," Bodner tells ISRAEL21. "We provide each group with guides who cn give special- ized instruction to fit their particular special needs and level of understanding." Hallel Ben-David, a 12-year-old girl who visited the Emek HaShalom farm with her family, blogged afterward that LOTEM guide Paula Friedland told them about a local boy who of- ten hiked through Nahal HaShofet with his friends. "He would hi on a trail that led to a particular cave there, until he was in a car accident and became para- lyzed. When LOTEM was !lanning to cbnstruct the accessible trail, they took this boy there and asked what they can do to bring back his experience of hik- ing. He told them that they should build the trail in away so that he can return to the cave. This is what they did," Hallel wrote. "This was very emotional for me." Bodner says about 12 per- Hiking with a LOTEM volunteer. cent of the Israeli population has some form of disability, whether as a result of a medi- cal condition, accident or violence. LOTEM co-founder Sorin Hershko ended up a paraplegic due to injuries he received in his military unit's daring rescue of Is- raeli hostages from Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976. An acronym for the He- brew phrase "integrated na- ture studies," LOTEM works with the Israeli ministries Of education, agriculture, health and welfare, the National Insurance Insti- tute, and also with private foundations and donors in Israel and abroad. For the past seven years, LOTEM has been a JNF partner organization. "JNF is a great friend of ours. I always say that they provide for the land and people of Israel, and we work with them to bring the land of Israel to all the people of Israel," says Bodner. LOTEM charges a mini- mal fee for its activities so that participants do not feel they are. receiving charity, Bodner explains. If members of a participating group" are unable to pay the full amount, the organization raises funds-to cover the remaining expenses. In addition to accessible hikes and agricultural ac- tivities at Emek HaShalom, LOTEM runs "Integra-Teva," which uses nature and outdoor activities to foster coexistence among Jewish and Arab youth with special needs. "Touching the Western Wall" provides an opportu- nity for children and adults with special needs to visit historical and religious sites in Jerusalem's cobblestoned Old City, no.t normally easily accessible for people with disabilities. LOTEM programs focus on facilitating friendships between children from special-needs and main- stream classrooms: 'From Black to Green," which takes the kids through the Carmel Forest to learn together about fire preven- tion and the importance bf preserving the natural beauty of Israel; and the four-week"Natural Integra- At Emek HaShalom, people olives and grapes. tion," funded by the Ruder- man Foundation, providing educational activities in nature. For children, adults and senior citizens confined to residential facilities, rehab centers and hospitals, get- ting outdoors isn't always with disabilities can press possible. But that doesn't mean they cannot enjoy nature in the company of friends. LOTEM's "Green Time" nature clubs, run by volunteer guides, engage these populations in educa- tional social activities about ecology.  Development Corporation for Israel Israel Bonds 12600 South Belcher Road, Suite 101A ISRAEL !i BONDS M,mb ..... Largo, Florida 33773 Reva Pearlstein Monica DiGiovanni Assistant Director Registered Representative 727-539-6445 800-622-8017 tampa The Traditional Mohel for the Modern Family Rabbi Dr. Israel d. Barzak, CMP, DM Gentle Certified Mohel Specialist Endorsed by the Greater Orlando Board of Rabbis Medical & Client References Faithfully serving for 25 years: ...... 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