Friday, March 29, 2013

More On The Los Angeles Kashrus Scandal




Despite the situation, Doheny Market was open for business on Thursday and its front window displayed a new kosher certificate  -- valid only until April 1.

The name and signature of Rabbi Meshulom Dov Weiss appear on the certificate, and the rabbi’s son, Rabbi Menachem Weiss, told the Journal that he and his father are working with Engelman to ensure that everything sold by Doheny is certified kosher. Weiss said that any opened meat packages had been removed from the store, and that two mashgiachs will now be on site at all times, and seven video cameras were to be installed throughout the premises, allowing the father to monitor the store via the web from his home in North Hollywood.

“We’re not going into it na├»ve,” Menachem Weiss told the Journal on Thursday. “These are the precautions that we’re putting into place to allow him to stay in business from now until April 1. What happens after that, we’ll have to see.”

The Weisses have acted as supervisors for Doheny before, for about 18 months starting in 2007 or 2008. Menachem Weiss did not remember the exact years, but said that Engelman brought them in after the RCC informed him – along with the rest of the shops they certified – that from then on, all meat sold under RCC kosher supervision had to be not just kosher, but glatt kosher.

For meat to be considered kosher, it must be from the right kind of animal and must be slaughtered and prepared properly. For large animals – not poultry – the animal’s innards must be checked to ensure that there are no signs of disease. If, for instance, a cow has a hole in its lung, the animal is not considered kosher by any standard.

But to be kosher under the higher “glatt” standard – the word means “smooth” in Yiddish – the animal’s lungs must have no signs of ever having had any ulcers. If the ulcers have healed, the meat is considered kosher – but not glatt kosher.

When the RCC began to insist upon the higher standard, it brought with it higher prices. Engelman, Weiss said, initially decided to drop the RCC’s certification and to continue selling kosher meat that did not meet the glatt standard under the Weisses’ supervision.

However without the RCC certification, Weiss said, Doheny’s business suffered, and Engelman decided to adhere to the glatt standard and return to the RCC.

“Our intent is not to replace the RCC,” Menachem Weiss said. “Our hope is that the RCC will take Mike back; we’re trying to help Mike earn back the trust of the community.”

Whether that’s possible remains to be seen, but it may not only be Doheny that needs to win back the trust of kosher consumers in Los Angeles. The RCC’s reputation may have sustained some damage as well.

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

Suspicions about Doheny Meats practices were brought to the RCC's attention repeatedly over the last three years, according to Daryl Schwarz, the owner of the now-closed Kosher Club.
Schwartz also said that, as early as 2010, he reported seeing the empty boxes, fraudulent labels and fraudulent tape to Rabbi Nissim Davidi, the RCC’s kashrut administrator.
“It was numerous times over the years,” Schwartz said.

In other developments, Eric Agaki, the investigator who broke the case, said that so far he has only enough evidence to prove that Doheny was repackaging meat that was Kosher, but not Glatt Kosher, though he fully suspects Doheny was using treyf.

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