New Young Israel President Vows Fight on Kashruth Price Gouging

Harold Jacobs of New York, the newly-elected president of the National Council of Young Israel, announced today that the association of Orthodox synagogues would set up a national kashruth review board to investigate charges of price gouging and monopoly in kosher meat and poultry markets and apply remedies where necessary.

In his inaugural address at the organization’s 45th national convention here, Jacobs cited evidence presented yesterday in a discussion of “the high cost of Jewish living” by Rabbi Binyamin Wallfish, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, and Sam Brach, a leading kosher meat retailer, that the actual added cost of kosher slaughter and production is no more than 10 to 15 cents per pound. The cost to the kosher consumer, they said, is 50 to 100 percent more than the wholesale price.

Wallfish accused kosher meat retailers of exploiting a captive market but Brach blamed restrictive kashrut certification requirements for creating a monopoly situation. Jacobs declared that Young Israel “will learn the truth and take whatever actions necessary to bring the price of kosher meat and poultry down to a reasonable level.” He promised, “if there is profiteering, we will stamp it out.”

In his valedictory address to the convention, Nathaniel Saperstein, outgoing president of the National Council, said that under Jacobs, Young Israel would continue its policy of vigorously opposing the spread of religious pluralism in Israel, strengthening its ties to the Jewish community in America and Israel and expanding its program of service to Jewish youths, collegiates and singles.

The convention session Friday night, devoted to Israel, heard Leonard Davis of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) urge the Jewish community to “concentrate on policy questions such as the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia and continued U.S. arms deliveries to Israel and to avoid personality politics in Washington.”

Ivan Sokoloff, of Young Israel in Cleveland, discussed ways to ease the high cost of Jewish education for middle income parents. He proposed that “the Orthodox community consider taxing all of its members to support Jewish education either directly or through a surcharge on all kosher products and religious articles.” He called on those communities with more than one day school to “consider merging or sharing facilities to reduce operating costs.”

The Young Israel convention, attended by over 500 delegates opened Friday with a call by David Love, National Council vice president to the Orthodox community to rally behind the Young Israel movement to counter “the vicious attack in Eretz Israel and here from anti-Torah forces” seeking “the spread of religious pluralism in Israel.”

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