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!
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "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.
  • 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.