How Kosher Meat Scandal Exploded in Los Angeles

'Monumental' Failure Rocks Community on Eve of Passover

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By Jonah Lowenfeld (Jewish Journal)

Published April 04, 2013.
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But there’s evidence that kosher consumers’ faith in the RCC has been shaken.

“I have no clue who to trust anymore,” a woman shopping at Pico Glatt Mart on Thursday, March 28, said, asking to be identified only as Friede. “I don’t trust RCC.”

The RCC has been working hard to limit any damage to its reputation. In a statement released March 29, the RCC’s May emphasized the rapidity of the RCC’s response, listed the systems the council had in place at Doheny to ensure that kosher laws were followed and said that the mashgiach assigned to Doheny had been suspended.

“This is a monumental failure,” May said in an interview. “Even though it wasn’t a system-wide failure, it was a failure, because we owe the community to not have any failures.”

May said that throughout the week of Passover, he had been questioned about what the RCC knew, and when. He said the RCC knew competitors had complained about Doheny, including allegations that empty boxes, fraudulent labels and fraudulent tape had been seen in Engelman’s truck. But the RCC said in its statement that it had investigated all the complaints and found “no evidence of wrongdoing.”

After the RCC certification was revoked, two other rabbis offered to certify Doheny as kosher, arguing that the meat was kosher even if it did not reach the standard of glatt – a form of premium kosher that once was limited to Hasidic circles but in recent decades has become the standard for kashrut certifiers.

On Sunday, Shlomo Rechnitz, a prominent L.A. businessman and philanthropist, purchased the store from Engelman.

Rechnitz could not be reached immediately for comment. But May, who was among a group of rabbis who urged Rechnitz to buy the store, confirmed the sale to the Jewish Journal.

Under Rechnitz’s ownership, RCC would likely resume its certification of Doheny, May said.

“If Mr. Engelman is out entirely and it’s owned entirely by Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, it’s likely that we will return our certification forthwith,” he said.

This story

Jewish Journal writer Zev Hurwitz contributed to this report.


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