After Scandal, Slow Start for Ethical Certification

Magen Tzedek Yet to Put Stamp on Any Kosher Products

By Seth Berkman

Published October 03, 2012, issue of October 05, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Magen Tzedek, the kosher ethics certification program launched four years ago, has yet to certify its first food producer.

In fact, Rabbi Morris Allen, the group’s program director, told the Forward that independent auditors only completed their initial audit of the project’s first potential candidate to receive the Magen Tzedek seal in August. And even that process is now stalled.

The program, which requires those who would receive its seal to fill out a long form covering their policies on everything from worker salaries to animal welfare, had promised its supporters it would be operating by spring of 2011. But that hasn’t happened, and Allen, the program’s founder, pleads patience.

“It’s slower than we had imagined at this point,” Allen said. “But given the fact we live in a world where people are always looking to cut corners, often at the expense of workers or animals, we remain convinced that our product is the right product and our message is the right message.”

Allen’s admits he was not fully prepared for the minute details and lethargic pace that has come with launching an organization that represents, as he sees it, “the ethical conscience of Torah.”

“I’m a pulpit rabbi, not a businessperson,” he told the Forward in an August 30 interview — some four years after he and other Conservative rabbis introduced the concept of certifying the ethical standing of kosher food. His initiative, known as Magen Tzedek, still has no products carrying its seal.

Numerous delays have hindered the project, chief among them a rigorous approval process unlike any other certification in kashrut. All the while in the background, an emotional debate continues with the Orthodox Jewish community over the validity of such a seal. The Magen Tzedek Commission is disappointed by the postponements, but remains committed to its goal. Its members say they will not sacrifice their strict standards for speed, and they expect to see products carrying their seal by the end of 2012.

Joe Regenstein, a Cornell University professor of food science who has reviewed the standards at various stages, wrote in an e-mail, “Once we realized that this was a much bigger project than originally anticipated, the effort to generate publicity was ratcheted down.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.