Meir Gershon Rabi is involved once more in controversy

They say that all publicity is good publicity. I’m sure Meir Gershon Rabi and Kalman Gradman’s business benefit from each bit of publicity negative or positive. His clientele are set in their ways and largely are happy to leave the onus on Meir Gershon. This article and and happenings won’t bother those few.

I understand there is a fracas brewing between the Australian Jewish News and Meir Gershon over an apparent refusal to remove a Dayan in London’s letter of approbation ostensibly originally designed to ensure Meir Gershon is accepted for a job as a Mashgiach.

Where the truth lies I do not know. I am not a prophet.

However, note that there is a concept called Asmachta. Without using it formally, it can be thought of as an adjacency relationship.

This much I know for a fact. Meir Gershon has/used to have/ a gravatar which included Rav Belski from the OU. There can be many theories why someone would choose to do that. If I have a gravatar with a grandchild, then one assumes that I’m kvelling/happy to appear together with them. If a Chosid has a gravatar with his Rebbe, then we understand that entering that Chosid’s house one will find pictures of that Rebbe, and that Rebbe will be his guiding light in matters of life.

It is peculiar though for someone to have a gravatar with Rav Belsky, unless Rav Belski is Meir Gershon’s mentor, or Rav HaMuvhak, or was the one that gave him Smicha or perhaps Meir Gershon did shimush (rabbinical apprenticeship) with Rabbi Belski. I don’t expect Meir Gershon will ever tell us why he did so, but there will be various theories as to such.

For my part, I didn’t allow that gravatar on my blog. I asked him to have a picture only of himself. At the end of the day, nobody who eats using his imprimatur is eating from any other authority except Meir Gershon. Each to their own. His curious need to rub shoulders with Rabbis and then publish pictures may be a marketing ploy. I don’t know or understand why this should be done.

What I can advise, and have advised, is that Meir Gershon visits many Rabbonim around the word where he discusses various aspects of his ideas, hetterim, and future projects.

I was talking to Mori V’Rabbi Rav Schachter, Posek of the OU, who advised that he had received some written material from Meir Gershon. Readers may remember that Rav Schachter said he could not see a problem with Kosher thick style Matzos made K’Das V’Kdin, although he had absolutely zero to do with Meir Gershon’s own production and in no way gave it his own imprimatur.

Meir Gershon has had an idea for some some seven years regarding cattle, and has been researching it assiduously, asking questions on the internet and to Rabbonim.

I attended Yeshiva University’s Yarchei Kallah in December. Speaking to Rav Schachter, I showed him a selfie of Rav Schachter and Meir Gershon. Rav Schachter was shocked and asked ‘how did you get that. I met with him only yesterday’. I responded that it apparently was on the internet. Rav Schachter shrugged his shoulders and said that he had advised Meir Gershon not to put the picture on websites. It seems Meir Gershon is selective in his hearing.

For what it’s worth, I also have pictures of myself with Rav Schachter, but they are in the vein of

והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך

I don’t run a kosher business and mentioned to Rav Schachter that my pictures would not appear on the internet (certainly not without his permission)!

I have a problem with Kashrus Businesses.

If the melbourne community had more communal sense, it would come to a scheme of arrangement whereby Mizrachi was paid for their investment in Kashrus. The Kashrus should be handed over to the Melbourne Beth Din, with current staff intact. Any experts from Adass should be invited to join as well as Yeshivah. The Rav Hamachshir should remain Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick. He is a true expert in the area, and he should have someone in training for the future. The standard used needs to be OU standard, and frankly, I wouldn’t be upset if Kosher Australia became an arm of the OU in Australia. All States would set up a similar operation. There would be one hechsher. One could confidently buy from any butcher shop. Independent audits could be inaugurated. A lay body would oversee finances and eventually profits would be poured back into a reformed COSV (which I perceive as tired and haggard) and which sought to help Orthodox Shules become more attractive without becoming Conservadox, as well as the sponsoring of programs for the disabled and challenged amongst us.

There would be no place or space for more than one authority. This is what I saw in Johannesburg, and recently in Miami. What a pleasure it was.

To put it bluntly, Kashrus Supervision should not be a business. Proper respectable wages should be given, and contracts and KPI’s implemented but the notion of making a business out of hechsherim is anathema to me.

Yes, it is true, there will be some contentious matters, and sometimes we will need to compromise so that world’s best standards are adhered to. This will benefit the Australian export market. And yes, those who want to have whisky from wine casks, can do so in their own homes. Personally, my own view is that this whisky is okay, but I don’t have a problem with an authority adopting accepted world standards. That being said, the wording that has been used needs to be vetted more carefully, and I understand that this will be the case in the future. As much as I like a good scotch, it’s not the be all and end all.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

7 thoughts on “Meir Gershon Rabi is involved once more in controversy”

  1. There is a person in NYC called Israel Meir Steinberg who gives a hechsher which in my opinion is 100% unreliable, exactly like having no hechsher at all, and he displays a pattern of behaviour similar to what you describe.

    He used to have on his stationery “member of the Rabbinical Alliance of America”. This is the Iggud Horabonim, one of the four main rabbi unions in America, but I have never seen anyone else advertise their membership in such an organisation; I’ve seen board members, officers, dayonim, do so, but not ordinary members. Only he did so, and I think it was to associate their name with him, and give the impression that they endorse his hechsher. After a while he stopped doing it, and started putting only “member of an Orthodox rabbinical organisation”. I assumed this was because the Iggud Horabonim had found out he was using their name, and told him to knock it off.

    Then a while later he had a new title on his stationery: “alumnus of Torah Vodaas”. Of course this means nothing; for all the reader knows he might have gone there just for kindergarten. And even if he got his smicha there it means nothing about his reliability now. But again he clearly wanted people to associate him with the yeshivah and rely on his hechsher. Again, he stopped after a while, and again I assume it was because the Yeshivah told him to.

    His latest shtick is to adopt a logo, a teacup with a K in it, and call himself the “Cup-K”, which if you just hear it rather than see it in writing sounds a lot like “Kof-K”, which is a respectable hechsher. Given his track record I do not judge him lechaf zechus, and I assume this similarity is deliberate. I expect that the Kof-K will take action and try to prevent him from using a name that sounds so similar to theirs.

    From what I hear he’s actually a frum guy, careful with his own kashrus, but he doesn’t care about the customer. He seems to take the attitude that anyone who relies on his hechsher is a sheigetz, and for such shkotzim what he certifies is kosher enough 🙂

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  2. that gentleman give his supervision to establishment which are said to use only kosher ingredients etc but are own by non-Jew or have non-Jewish partners, however the restaurant are open on Shabbat. There is another Rabbi named Cohen who is a graduate of a well know Yeshiva who give similar supervisions.
    These establishment vegetarian and or vegan.
    Such rabbis are considered renegade except by those who have a pre-establish anti rabbinic bias
    Only a very small percentage of Shomer Shabbat individuals frequents these eateries

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    1. I don’t think you can compare Steinberg to R Harry Cohen. As far as I know R Cohen takes his job seriously and makes sure that the place is actually kosher. I have lots of reasons to beleive that Steinberg doesn’t.

      (There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a goyish-owned restaurant being open on Shabbos, so long as you know they’re not using Shabbos to bring in treifos, or lighting their own fires then, etc. I have spoken to another rabbi who gives hechsherim to places that are open on Shabbos, and he actually makes a point of dropping in on a Shabbos every once in a while, just so they know it can happen.)

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      1. This isn’t the issue. Meir Gershon goes firm Shule to Shule for business purposes. Halevai he was just working for KA under direction. That’s his darga and what he would be doing but he’s running a profit business and his wife and kids don’t eat from his ‘hechsher’

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  3. Scotch whiskey has been made using wine casks for literally hundreds of years, and it has always been generally accepted as kosher. I’m concerned about the OU’s willingness to dispense with accepted practice in general, but this instance is just silly: there are multiple coinciding reasons why the use of sherry casks should not be a problem, and the accepted halacha is that in fact it is not a problem.

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    1. Having spoken to people who have gone on the Scottish whisky tour, they claim that all whisky is in casks. Perhaps some never had wine in them in a past life and others were new. On the OU’s stance it SOUNDS like they are following the cRc. I am not sure what has changed, and I have it in my mind to speak to a few Rabbis about it, perhaps also Rabbi Schachter.

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