An Introduction: Who Retains the Power for Meaningful Change?

We are saddened to announce here that this is the final article published by the founding company behind the KosChertified? Grocery List+ app. We have spent five years attempting to grow a grassroots movement for kosher certification awareness (“kosher awareness”) for all our people, regardless of their religious faith, race or identity. In this farewell, please grant us one last Kosher Question: Who among us would argue against making recognition of cryptic kosher certification seals an inclusive matter for the majority, when it impacts all of us, even if only indirectly? We, in fact, discovered that there is fervent resistance!

While we played clean, our adversaries resorted to playing dirty, even for this “low hanging fruit” of dissension to the existing system, i.e. the status quo. Opposition used a tactic straight out of Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals by personalizing and attacking their target, for it certainly is easier these days to attack individuals and families instead of confronting the ubiquitous kosher certification issue with a civilized “conversation.” Our ongoing exposure of the myriad angles to kosher certification was suppressed by malicious gatekeepers, but for anyone whose read Alinsky’s famous book, be advised: We were the company fighting for the “Have-Nots”, while the system’s goons acted on behalf of the “Haves”, tricked into the illusion that they are standing for justice when actually they are merely strengthening the Power against the Have-Nots!

So while our company’s grievance is fundamentally not political, neither left-leaning nor right-leaning on its surface, the stakeholder’s extreme censorship provides a method of “neatly packaging” our subject-matter into the “far right”, the only group that will open their minds to the details of these issues. Hence, the bogeyman has been foisted by the stakeholders to keep the general populace, even the Have-Nots, from scrutinizing what many objectively deem a dishonest racket. And in our democratized society, shouldn’t the people have their fair assessment on the facts? This should give cause to anyone looking for solutions to our increasingly complex questions these days. Rhetorically speaking, if someone from the “far right” of the political spectrum found the cure for cancer, would it be aggressively packaged into a silo and labeled a “hoax” or “conspiracy theory” to keep the pharmaceutical stakeholders in power? That is a realistic comparison to our issues here, and why the controversy of ubiquitous kosher certification doesn’t gain traction in America today – even after one century of inscrutable practice!

But here’s an analogy that our progressive-left and center-leaning friends might find intriguing: It’s 1970, and a senior executive for a San Francisco Fortune 500 corporation starts up a side business out of his garage to produce rainbow flags. You see, he has always been a “Doer”, and not a “Do-Nothing”. That’s how he became so successful and climbed the corporate ladder! But this executive, not gay himself, but strongly believing in the power of “identity” and “freedom” (he was a Korean War veteran), had a creative vision to produce rainbow flags as an identity symbol while hosting local pride parades to attract followers and grow this identity movement for his gay friends. Fellow homophobic managers from his corporation caught whiff of his perfectly legal activities, raised a stink in the public newspapers on his outside-work activities, and through other unsavory means forced the closure of his small veteran-owned business while defaming his professional and personal character in public. You see, this executive was “before his time” in 1970, and the LGBT movement would have to wait many more years for tolerance, let alone acceptance! Do our progressive readers feel empathy for this snuffed out forerunner of issues that could have begun earlier, and would this story cause them to look beyond the bogeyman or other straw man tactics? For those readers here who detest “right wing” issues, we encourage you to think outside the kosher-certified box on the possibility that powerful organizations have packaged certain issues like ours in ways to stop you from noticing! Open your minds and follow it by opening your refrigerator and cupboard doors!

kosher recognition
Survey shows only 10% of consumers recognize the most common kosher seal in America!

Indeed, the grassroots movement for kosher awareness is “before its time”, even to the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion departments of big corporations whose intent it is to promote meaningful identity issues. And that is because as few as 10% of consumers are privy to this dominant practice of rabbinical oversight of our nation’s products for sustenance. We insist that seeking freedom from supporting religiously-controlled secular products is an identity movement worthy of respect – just as today’s DEI departments treat LGBT. And our task is to enlighten the population to this reality – our reality. While we have always published on our website that we are not anti-kosher, and in our Terms resolutely profess that we are passionate supporters of religious freedom, this freedom should be a two-way street! Food culture is an identity issue. Religion is an identity issue. And we are not all kosher keepers just as today’s LGBTQ+ are not cis-gendered straight heterosexual males! Thus, our general supermarkets should not essentially be kosher markets (under a veil of deception), with little to no choice but supporting a religion (and its self-interests) we may not observe. This is a liberating statement that acknowledges and respects the diversity of religions in our nation and recognizes the modern industrial capabilities and a legal structure to serve us all the choice selections that treat people of all faiths fairly and equitably…and that means offering religion-neutral products free from one specific religion’s oversight and supervision (i.e., control and hegemony). In a nation that in one century has given us ubiquitous kosher certification as the norm, we plead for our physical safe space to consume goods free from this oversight, and the psychological safe space to speak about it. And so we put out our challenge to DEI departments in corporations across all America to be the first to address this identity topic with your massive DEI budget. How tolerant would you be with Gilbert Baker back in 1970? Would you ignore him, and shouldn’t you expect better in 2022, regardless of how esoteric our identity issue may be!

Our Foundations

Thomas Jefferson is quoted on the walls of his memorial in Washington, D.C.:

“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” 

thomas jefferson on religion
“No man should be compelled to frequent or support…” – but have you tried to buy mayonnaise or peanut butter free from religious oversight lately?

Our five years of activism have shown that the average person in America is compelled to support the religion of Judaism, its kosher agencies and programs, if he or she wants to eat within the practical means we are accustomed. If this consumer is non-Jewish and not a Seventh Day Adventist, then there are strong odds that the essence of Jefferson’s views on religious freedom is not being served for him or her today. And if not, who’s country are we living in? Are elements of religious authoritarianism or theocracy insidiously sneaking in, or is this something else? Furthering on Jefferson’s quote, why can’t an above board company profess and by argument maintain opinions in this one matter of religion without being de-platformed from mainstream media opportunities? It is this essence of Thomas Jefferson’s religious stance that frames KosChertified’s argument, and it is a good one. The system has essentially imposed outright kosher certification on the people, so can we talk about it?

Our long-standing pinned tweet garnered over 81,000 impressions and nearly 2,500 engagements. We guess that this is a drop in the bucket compared to simple comments made by a celebrity, but we view this as real progress for the education of the American consumer.  We must create new terms to illuminate today’s reality, legitimize our grievance, and professionalize our solutions:

KosChertified? Dictionary
NKC • abbreviation: NOT Kosher-Certified
example 1 – “Mr. Grocer, do you have any NKC milk in your dairy section? No? Why Not?”
example 2 – “Mr. Kroger, I see that most food in this supermarket is kosher-certified.
What aisle is the NKC section?”

the power of words can help shape culture

The Anti-Defamation League has published their ADL Vision Statement on Religious Freedom (Faith, Fairness, Freedom). It begins with, “ADL believes that true religious freedom is best achieved when individuals are able to practice their faith or choose not to observe any faith.” We have shown countless categories of products where it is impossible to avoid kosher certification – even in a military commissary. Surprisingly, food wrap is one of them when purchased from a supermarket. And this inherently dictates that all consumers, if wanting to wrap their leftovers for the refrigerator, must yield to the restrictions set forth by Torah and Talmudic, Mosaic and rabbinical, interpretations that authorize their “hekhshers” (kosher seals). Do we need to get into a 500 word pilpul argument on what the ADL means by “observe”? Technically speaking, most consumers are not observing the Judaic faith because they can’t even recognize the most common kosher seal, but they are submitting to the faith because over time, the pyramid scheme of kosher suppliers, kosher ingredients, the kosher logistics of transportation, initial kashering,  kosher industrial lubrications and food additives all compound into a greater cost for all the people. It’s so widespread, so unavoidable, it’s no surprise you find these trucks:

FOOD GRADE ONLY truck seen on the highway, but “NON KOSHER” making it an exception

So when the ADL statement concludes, “religious belief is not used to harm or infringe on the rights of [the people] by others in the public marketplace”, they must be overlooking the most flagrant example in America today. They are well aware of how predominant the kosher certification industry is, and they serve articles to scare off those who critically scrutinize it. If only we could get a deep “rabbit hole” look at how infringed most of us are in our religious rights when it comes to endless kosher certification outside the kosher section of our supermarket! Here’s are two examples of inedible kosher certified products you many not have been aware of…

Common Tactics Today

Even a cursory glance at Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals, reveals how prevalent his rules have been in creating change in recent American society. And as “ridicule” was at the top of the list in his recommended tactics, it comes as no shock to read the following from Asatru author Stephen A. McNallen:

“We live in a cynical society where everything is open to ridicule. Irreverence is considered a virtue and it is unfashionable to take anything very seriously.”

His words speak volumes, and suggest that in today’s culture it is increasingly challenging to live in a more solemn, reserved, sometimes serious, and profane-free polite civility where conflicts are concluded with, “I may disagree with your statement, but you certainly have the right to make it.” Instead we see and we feel nothing but smears, profanities, and obscenities. And where humor is employed, who is it that gets to use the potent tool of ridicule?

Our entertainment industry and the “trusted flagger” censorship power of the ADL make certain that comedian Larry David’s “Pissing on Christ” episode and Sarah Silverman’s standup comedy shtick offending Jesus are accessible on YouTube. But when we commissioned the witty RamzPaul to create a funny take on the kosher certification industry, its life on YouTube and other platforms was quickly severed, regardless of its early tremendous popularity. And so this exercise in following the Rules for effective change was cancelled by our inability to communicate to the people…a must in organizing grassroots movements! This reaffirmed that there was a true-to-life power struggle here, and kosher [certification] awareness for all the people was outright being suppressed. Saul was right. There are Haves and there are Have-Nots, especially in freedom of speech.

History

Christians, we implore you to have a conversation with your fellow travelers. Should the New Testament verse of John 2:14 be reinterpreted for today’s modernity: “In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, doves, and kosher certificates”? Check out the courageous interpretations of one orthodox Christian here!

DAR member Marian Strack (searchable as Mrs. Henry Strack) was the first American to confront the kosher certification industry in a 1954 speech. We hope we’ve beat that drum enough times over these five years to give you a sense of our American historical past, for many DEI organizations are adamant about using historical references to advance their causes for equity. Mrs. Strack, however, suffered greatly in countless newspaper headlines across our nation – a coordinated frenzy of disapproval for her bold remarks. Furthering Mrs. Strack’s misfortune, 1954 did not have any knight in shining armor and no comedian David Chappelle to give her some defensive or comic relief. Only what today’s millenials call “cucks.” It certainly wasn’t a crazy thing for Marian Strack to notice the kosher seals appearing on laundry detergent packages and everywhere else, it was only a crazy thing for her to say it out loud.

Continuing this line of thought, if Asatru author Stephen McNallen had no use for kosher certification, and found it limiting in the diversity of food offered to him, he might feel his civil rights impacted and seek out remedies through the lens of American history. How did these infringements against him start? How does he seek out equity in the food and kitchen product marketplace?

While ours has been a strictly peaceful movement, there’s a solid historical record that the kosher certification industry has its roots in boycotts, riots, violence, and organized crime. The ADL recently tweeted on some of these aspects while celebrating Jewish Heritage month, and Hunter College featured it in a seminar series for Jewish Studies: https://hunter.cuny.edu/news/unkosher-the-role-of-organized-crime-in-the-kosher-food-trades-1900-1920/  But we don’t even need to look into the past when current affairs, intended for Israeli eyes only, reveal the unkosher side of kosher certification practices as they are confronted by Knesset members. Should American consumers be kept in the dark when the industry is replicated here in the states? Note the caption (not available on mobile screen formats) along with the included Shutterstock image from this Ynetnews article.

Our Top Ten Points of Dissension

These past five years our company has educated shoppers! Our ground-breaking consumer research exposed a deceptive trade practice, our NKC database provided choice while building identity, and we made headway towards necessary legislation for remedies. And still we hear from those who wish to drown our voice: “Why would anyone want to identify products that are NOT Kosher Certified (NKC)?” Our Top 10 reasons:

#1 – Our consumer surveys, funded by the LLC that hosts @KosChertified, have determined that 39% “prefer there’d be no religious organization intervening in the food they buy.” https://surveymonkey.com/results/SM-YJG3XHS27/… And that is significant!

#2 – With over TWO MILLION items kosher-certified for our “free” marketplace, it has become practically impossible to avoid religiously supervised goods in the supermarket for most essential or popular needs. We’re not just talking food!

#3 – Lost Progress. Rookie Engineer: “Hey boss, I’ve noticed that if we just use this one natural ingredient in our grease-fighting cleaner, not only will our product be more effective, but also cheaper!” Boss: “Sorry, it’s not kosher!”

#4 – It’s challenging to find packaged food products free from kosher certification. In fact, it’s like finding a needle in the haystack! And so one might wonder what DIVERSE flavors, textures, colors or nutrition we consumers are missing out on, only to accommodate the laws of Kashrus?

#5 – Kosher certification and its manifestation in product labeling remains inscrutable after one century in America. Our research points to a systemic deceptive trade practice which maintains its obfuscation.

#6 – They claim the kosher cost is oh so small, but you’ll never see the numbers! At what point do mandatory Kashering, Kosher suppliers, Kosher trucking, Kosher truck washes, Kosher staffing add-ons, Kosher machine lubricants, and ever-compounding Kosher requirements overwhelm efficiencies due to economy of scale?

#7 – If true consumer sentiment is as we have measured, 39% desiring no religious intervention in food production, why doesn’t economy of scale permit “Religion-Neutral” products as a choice, much like low-sodium, low-fat, sugar-free or “veggie” is accommodated by the marketplace? Is it because the marketplace is not being forthright and transparent?

#8 – The kosher industry enjoys considerable IRS breaks. We question the ethics of these tax perks for religious services extending well outside the congregation and into the secular marketplace, especially with so little transparency.

#9 – It is all too common to see kosher seal trickery: putting the hekhsher where one expects a registered trademark symbol, or even camouflage! THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY derides the fraud deterrence of our Fair Packaging and Labeling Act.

#10 – Should the little known certification seal of a parent organization supporting spy Jonathan Pollard blanket every single product of a food category in a military commissary, to such an extent that one cannot avoid or boycott it? Our military service members and their families should be treated more respectfully! If kosher keepers were permitted to boycott in the early 1900s America to get kosher certification laws and a dominant industry for their interests, why can’t today’s military and vets boycott organizations that support subversive spies to their nation? With all the mainstream media calls for “disavowals” these days, when was the last time you heard them demand the disavowal from those who patronize the supporters of our nation’s traitors?

Concluding Remarks

The vast majority of consumers are not kosher keepers; maybe as few as 22% of the Jewish community strictly observes Kashrus! Should this catalogue of trademarked kosher seals be handed out free of charge at supermarkets nationwide?

An essential guide book to America’s kosher keepers. Should it be available to all the people free at the checkout counter?

Allow us to repeat: Our LLC and KosChertified? app has never been “anti-Kosher”, but was helpful for all our people, and that is why both Apple and Google Play had initially approved our app’s publication in their app stores. That said, use of this term against us has been just one more radical means that our adversaries employed to stop our movement to educate the people! Here follows the Terms of Use we had in use for many years:

KosChertified? (“Company”, “we,” “us” or “our”) is a passionate supporter of religious freedom in the marketplace and fair trade practices for the consumer, emphasizing transparency. While respecting true kosher foods and religiously certified products for those requiring or seeking them, we further respect the rights of consumers to not have the religious laws of one faith or sect imposed on the goods and services in their free marketplace without having robust choices to purchase outside this, as American consumers are diverse in their religious and spiritual following. KosChertified? seeks to help all consumers better understand their shopping choices, by increasing the information available regarding the kosher certification and other religious certification processes. We aim to provide services and resources to consumers relating to the kosher food certification industry (our primary focus), to shed light on lesser known practices, promote kosher awareness and certification recognition inclusiveness, dispel common misconceptions and raise public discussion about what foods and other inedible products actually are, or are not, kosher certified. Other religious certification practices, for instance halal certification, are addressed from time to time with similar purpose. Given the severe unfamiliarity (as exemplified in our past surveys) that most consumers have on the religious certification dominance in the U.S. marketplace after nearly one century, we resort to provocative marketing strategies necessary to penetrate the systemic shroud of secrecy on this subject matter, all while delivering essential consumer awareness with the potential to affect fair change for the benefit of all consumers, regardless of faith or identity.

While as we told you, today’s DEI activists leverage our history for the many means they employ, the system never liked that we injected history to segue or juxtapose our points, bringing life to the dry subject of kosher labels! The attacks on us came shortly after our June 8th public service announcement, a tribute memorializing USS Liberty victims. Was this just a coincidence? We dedicate this final article of ours to those fallen victims of 1967 and our dissidents who dare remind our citizenry of the tragic truth.

We leave our readers with this: America has slowly shed transparent “Sunday Blue Laws” for what, in essence, amount to obscure, imposed Judaic Kashrus. Does this reflect a power change, and has anybody noticed (especially boomers)? There are state laws mandating four inch block lettering to protect kosher keepers in a kosher market with high visibility text, and look at the CA law detailing transparency for recycle labeling! It demands the following:

  • Clearly and Prominently that the redemption message is displayed so that it is easily found and read by consumers and recyclers. Each letter comprising the message is complete, legible, and cannot be readily obscured. The message must be distinguishable from refund messages of other states – Section 2000(a)(9)
  • Contrasting Colors means a clear differentiation in hue, value, and intensity with the background on which the redemption message appears, surrounding artwork, and other nearby printed information – Section 2000(a)(12)
  • Indelibly means that the redemption message is permanently affixed on the beverage container from the point of purchase until the point of redemption and cannot be smeared or removed during regular use – Section 2000(a)(27)
  • Minimum Lettering Size is applicable to the height of all the letters in the redemption message. Metal containers shall be marked on the top end of the container in minimum lettering size at least 3/16 inch in height – Section 2000(a)(31), Section 2000(b)(1)

And there you have it! If transparency can be legally defined for recycling, it should be done for religious certification. We could argue that transparency for your religious freedom is even more important than the CA recycling label laws, and should have even larger lettering and include one large uniform certification symbol for all to recognize in addition to the hundreds of obscure trademarked symbols we come across. We’ll let the government decide on that one, but the beginning of fulfilling Thomas Jefferson’s vision for religious freedom is with the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. AMEND IT NOW OR FOREVER SUBMIT TO DECEPTION!

If only we had transparency laws for religious certification!

There were about 407,300 American soldiers killed in World War II to fight racial purity laws of the time, but what survived this most devastating war are what is claimed as the oldest regulations in food and drink in the world…the German beer purity law of Wilhelm IV. The Bavarian family brewery of Bitburger claims that this is the oldest, brought into effect in 1516, and honored to this day. Anybody who occasionally enjoys a good beer can appreciate the significance of these long-standing food regulations that emphasize purity. But to claim it as the oldest? Here we think the Germans are wrong. For on the website of the world’s largest kosher agency we find a rabbi’s candid explanation of the kosher laws, dated May 4, 2004. Consider it some food for thought:

“For thousands of years of exile, the biblical and rabbinic laws of kosher have formed a natural fortress that prevented the assimilation of the Jewish people into many different cultures of the world…It is significant that even for secularized Jews, a kosher kitchen often remains the last bastion against intermarriage and assimilation.” (our emphasis in the italics)

Quoted from the article “Playing With Fire”, covering the set of three rabbinical food laws, bishul akum, pas akum, and stam yainom

Summary of Major Accomplisments

The following are what we consider the top accomplishments of our limited liability company while we kindled a grassroots movement for kosher certification awareness (“kosher awareness”):

  • Our retired U.S. Navy founder notified the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center (Chattanooga, TN) that Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Navy Captain William L. McGonagle was missing-in-action (MIA) from their museum’s primary search database platform, and that descriptions of his award found in their secondary network was clearly distorting the facts and historical events as they really occurred. Museum’s response: crickets. Our point of view: American heroes should not be obscured and censored like exposure of the kosher certification industry is!
  • Developed a smart tool (app) that educated consumers on the kosher certification industry and provided a database of the relatively few items that were still NOT Kosher Certified (NKC), or in other words, “religion-free”. Note: Halal certification is a fast-growing follower to kosher certification.
  • We were the executive producer and English editor of the original French-Canadian book From Kosher to Halal, authored by the courageous Suzanne Bousquet.
  • We authored the insightful 43 page Quantitative Study on Kosher Certification: Seal Visibility and Public Awareness. Many months in its research, it offers a seed for future marketing research.
  • We were the first to invest heavily in ground-breaking consumer surveys that gave a more realistic picture into kosher seal recognition, transparency, and opinions on religious intervention with food production.
  • We authored no less than 20 full length articles and blogs covering numerous aspects and angles on the kosher certification industry, hence legitimizing grievances and professionalizing solutions.
  • We put kosher certification awareness (“kosher awareness”) on the map, initiating the opportunity for a new identity movement framed around the diverse native cultures of food and inedible products free from outside religious oversight. One example might be Occidental au Naturel!
  • We introduced the first unrestrained Orthodox Christian counterpoint to ubiquitous kosher certification after an exhaustive search for authoritative opinion.
  • We made an expensive, but unsuccessful, attempt to educate vegetarians and vegans to how they were being exploited by the kosher certification industry as a marketing tool.
  • Our Freedom-Of-Information Act Inquiry (DeCA FOIA 22-043) revealed that while countless categories of food at military commissaries offer no freedom from kosher certification, apparently the U.S. government does not specifically contract for kosher-certified goods. It just shows up that way. Our point of view: The first amendment is being violated for these military service members and their families, and government ignorance is no longer an excuse to act for remedies. Also, our Federal Trade Commission complaint #116616117 and their response clearly indicate that the government will not easily open their eyes to the possible fraud that is being perpetrated on the people.
  • Our advocacy for peace by use of this most excellent discovery in newspaper articles, “Famine in the Ukraine“, by P.J. Lazarowich of the Edmonton Journal, dated October 25, 1933. A thorough reading should provoke even the most apolitical citizen into appreciating the role of propaganda in warmongering. Specifically from this article one should ask why Americans (and American media) didn’t care about millions of starving Ukrainians back in the fall of 1933, and why only a month after this article’s publication we actually joined the side of the Soviets who perpetrated this genocide? Students: please compare and contrast with media treatment of Ukrainians today.
  • Our company’s ad sponsorship through the years, with this one helping grow the GoFundMe account for the grieving family of Cannon Hinnant, may he rest in peace.
kosher
Kosher seals on average measure just 10% the size of most other certification labeling

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