Passover Kosher Meat Scandal in Los Angeles Latest in String of Mishaps

Shocking Violations of Jewish Law Are Rare

By JTA

Published April 05, 2013.
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Some rabbis in Monsey and nearby Spring Valley – though not all – told followers they had to rekosherize their kitchens, an arduous process that involves boiling pots and pans and passing utensils over an open flame. Some kitchenware that comes into contact with unkosher food is considered irredeemable and must be thrown out.

“It was extremely shocking because many, many people really viewed this grocery as the most reliable place to get your chicken,” said Rikki Davidson, a 28-year-old homemaker who lived in Monsey at the time. “All the caterers purchased chicken from him.” What exactly happened at Doheny Market in Los Angeles is still unclear. One day in early March, Engelman was caught on videotape directing his employees to unload boxes of meat from his car while the market’s kosher supervisor was absent. Engelman reportedly claimed the meat wasn’t unkosher, just not glatt – a higher kosher standard. But the meat was labeled as glatt.

On March 24, the RCC revoked the shop’s kosher certification. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched an investigation. And on Sunday, the store was sold to businessman Shlomo Rechnitz, Belsky’s son-in-law, who vowed to ensure it strictly complied with dietary laws.

For the untold numbers who bought meat from Engelman, the scandal constituted a profound betrayal of trust.

“I’d say hello to Engelman if I saw him on the street, but I would not invite him to dinner,” said May, who also is the executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “I don’t have people I don’t trust in my life.”

Avrom Pollak, the president of Star K, a kosher certifier in Baltimore, said his outfit frequently dealt with clients who tried to cut corners. His supervisors recently caught a caterer trying to sell non-kosher turkey to clients.


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