Thursday, April 11, 2013

UPDATE: LA's Doheny butcher

There remain so many unanswered questions re: Doheny.

What was the rush?  Most kosher consumers had done their passover purchase of meat & poultry at the time it was revealed the scandal. What was the rush to find a purchaser? A few weeks down it could have been bought at a fire sale price. No reason to reward the owner with making anything more than fire sale dollars.

There are other kosher distributors in the LA area. They may be certified by RCC's competition, is that the reason for the rush?

The Halachic ruling of not requiring to kosherize the utensils is very questionable at best based on the facts that could have been known at the time. see
The RCC claims they are a not making any profit with their certification. Therefore it would be beneficial to hand over the reins (at no charge) to another agency that subscribes to the motto of  חשדהו וחשדהו especially when there were many red flags that should have been picked up.
The RCC says  they will bring in outsiders to do  a forensic accounting to see who's at fault. The RCC is going to bring in the OU where Rabbi Belsky is the prominent halacha authority, & he is the father in law of Rechnitz the purchaser. The RCC says they'll also bring a chasidesh one to investigate.
When one wants to be successful in kashrus certification, he must be very observant in
  נטילת ידיים "where one hand washes ther other hand"


'Sachdis said...

"The RCC says they'll also bring a chasidesh one to investigate"

Trrrrrust us!

Los Angeles said...

Rabbi Teichman refusing to endorse Rabbi Belsky's whitewash of Doheny

Los Angeles said...

The RCC & OU must be furious that the LA Jewish Journal is reporting everything mentioned on Rabbi Shain's blog.

Los Angeles said...

Two local rabbis have made public statements questioning the reliability of the RCC’s kosher certification arm. And two merchants currently certified by the nonprofit consortium of nearly 100 Orthodox rabbis told the Journal that they are considering pursuing other options for their kosher certification.

“I don’t know if we still have confidence in the RCC,” one business owner, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in an interview on April 8. “It’s very tough, very unnerving.”

The other business owner, who also requested anonymity, said if he found the RCC’s imprimatur was harming his business, he would move to another certifier.

Rabbi Shimon Raichik, the director of Chabad-affiliated Congregation Levi Yitzchok on La Brea Avenue, wrote to his congregants on April 4 saying they should only buy meat from establishments where they know the owner is observant, “and either he or the mashgiach is present most of the time.”

“If the restaurant owner is either not a Yid [Jewish], or isn’t a Shomer Torah uMitzvos [observes the Torah and the commandments], even the best Hashgachah [certification] is not sufficient!” Raichik wrote in the e-mail. (He declined to be interviewed for this story.)

Doheny’s former owner, Mike Engelman, is Jewish but not Orthodox.

Rabbi Ezra Douek, the Sephardic Orthodox spiritual leader of Beit Midrash Od Yosef Hai, also located on La Brea, posted a sign at his synagogue on March 27 telling his followers that “until further notice, certification of meat products by [RCC logo] can not be relied on.”

Photographs of the sign circulated widely via text and e-mail; the day after he posted it, Douek said, he received a call from the head of the RCC’s kosher certification arm, Rabbi Nissim Davidi, asking him to take it down. Douek declined.

“I’m very upset about what happened and I hope that they’ll do good in the future,” Douek said on April 8.

In the aftermath of the scandal, many kosher-certified business won’t admit to having sourced meat or poultry from Doheny in the recent past. Even before the recent allegations against Doheny Meats and its owner, establishments certified by Kehilla Kosher were, as a matter of policy, prohibited from purchasing meat from Doheny. Of four RCC-certified merchants interviewed by the Journal, two said they hadn’t sourced meat from Doheny for months. The other two, which had taken shipments of Doheny meat until just before news of the scandal broke, declined to be interviewed on the record.

Aaron Nourollah, one of five part-owners of two local RCC-certified markets, Glatt Mart on Pico and Cambridge Farms in the San Fernando Valley, however, not only admitted to having poultry that came from Doheny, but agreed to show one such box of chicken leg quarters to a reporter.

Standing in a refrigerator at Glatt Mart stuffed with meat, Nourollah, who worked for eight years as a mashgiach himself, opened up a sealed box from Agri Star, a large kosher processor.

Los Angeles said...

Can someone inform Rechnitz that the Brooklyn Bridge is also for sale?

Rechnitz said that he believes Engelman with “99 percent” confidence.

Over the course of a week of negotiations, Rechnitz spent between eight and 10 hours with Engelman; he said he does not believe Engelman brought the unsupervised products into Doheny to respond to specific customers’ requests, as some have suggested.

Rechnitz said Engelman himself couldn’t fully explain why he brought the unsupervised meat into the store, but Rechnitz speculated that it may have been due to anger Engelman felt towards his main supplier, Agri Star, the large kosher meat processor based in Postville, Iowa. In 2009, Agri Star bought the Postville plant from the bankrupt Rubashkin-owned firm AgriProcessors, which had been shut down in the aftermath of the largest immigration raid in American history.

Money may not have been the motivating factor, Rechnitz said

The deal with Engelman included a non-disclosure agreement about the price, Rechnitz said

Rechnitz also helped save Chabad of California’s headquarters from foreclosure.

Los Angeles said...

Our reporter Jonah Lowenfeld’s subsequent probe revealed that the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC), the body that deemed Doheny Meats kosher, had fielded many allegations of improprieties against the store over the past three years. The organization either failed to act or was not up to the task of true oversight. Moreover, Lowenfeld found the store’s owner had been implicated in another kosher scandal decades earlier in Los Alamitos — something the RCC wasn’t even aware of.

As for transparency, cameras and digital tracking technology can allow managers and consumers to monitor every step of the distribution process. The kosher supervisors should make their operations clear to the public as well. Customers, outside experts and disinterested rabbis should be part of the oversight.

Several non-kosher butcher shops are pioneering in these practices — kosher has to catch up. How significant would it be for the reborn Doheny Meats to be not just the Tiffany’s of price, but of ethics as well.

Yerachmiel Lopin said...

Instead of kabdeihu vichashdeihu you wrote chashdeihu vichashdeihu.

We need a post on the special poskim for kabdeihu vikabdeihu vikabdeihu.