NEW YORK (Mar. 4)
Alarmed by the consistent annual pre-holiday rise in the prices of kosher-for-Passover products, the Rabbinical Alliance of America, an association of Orthodox rabbis, announced today a nation-wide project to seek to persuade observant consumers to protest such price boosts at the stores where they shop.
Rabbi Abraham Hecht, president of the Orthodox rabbinical group, said a letter has been sent to each of the organization’s 500 pulpit rabbis asking them to become actively involved in the campaign. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that each member rabbi is being asked to publicize the campaign in his synagogue bulletin and to impress on congregants the need to resist the price boosts.
Hecht said the spiritual leaders of the Jewish community “are duty-bound to control the spiraling, exorbitant pricing policies of the manufacturers and distributors of kosher foods, meats and poultry.” He added that “there appears to be an insatiable desire,” especially during “the Passover season,” on the part of manufacturers and retailers “to grab as much money” as they can “from the captive Jewish community wishing to observe the stringent laws of kashruth on Passover.”
Hecht told the JTA that approaches had been made to the major manufacturers of matzoh and all had responded with “a polite rebuff.”
Hecht said he had discussed the problem with Rabbi Isaac Training, director of the commission on synagogue relations of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. Hecht said the commission arranged a meeting for discussion of the price problem with manufacturers “and exactly one company representative showed up.”
Hecht noted that the basis for Federation participation was the fact that the Federation’s purchasing department annually buys Passover supplies for more than 100 of its institutions, as well as kosher products the rest of the year.
“There is hardly any excuse for these exaggerated prices, since neither the price of production nor supervision for Passover actually imposes any true hardships on the producer which he cannot absorb with no great financial sacrifice,” Hecht said.
RAPS THE ‘UNHOLY TRIUMVIRATE’
He explained the thrust of the project by declaring that “the distributors and retailers must be warned by the educated Jewish consumers that they will refuse to accede to the financial rip-off schemes concocted by the unholy triumvirate of producers, distributors and retailers.”
Rabbinical Alliance rabbis are being urged in the Alliance letter to advise their congregants and communities “to use more fresh fruits and vegetables during the Passover holiday and to refuse to purchase any canned or bottled foods or juices, meats, fish and poultry which are overpriced because of Pesach.”
Hecht said he felt confident that “common sense will finally prevail among the manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of Kosher-for-Passover foods and beverages, meats, fish and poultry.” He said that restraint in holding kosher product prices in line would help the Jewish family to observe the laws of koshruth without the financial pressure stemming from seasonally higher prices.
Hecht said the Rabbinical Alliance had made a small-scale effort in the spring of 1981 to fight the expected and realized price increases. The effort this year, he said, is much more intensive and will be the start of a year-around campaign to induce consumers to protest unreasonable kosher product prices.