Thursday, May 27, 2010

When Bad Jews worship the Jelly Tot Rebbe

A story….

About a year ago, BBDC* (see key below), I was chatting to a friend of mine.

Jelly Tots BBDC came up in the conversation.

Regarding Jelly Tots BBDC, she said:

“I’m a bad Jew. I give my kids Jelly Tots BBDC”

And my blood boiled

Jew’s calling themselves ‘Bad Jews’

This, from a woman who is a nurturing mother

A dedicated wife

A loving and respectful daughter

This, from a woman who is kind, caring and does charity work.

A woman who always helps and gives assistance to people.

Note my word. ‘GIVES’.

She NEVER offers.


She just goes ahead and does.

Why would such a woman, who represents so many of the Godly attributes Jews should aspire to, call herself a ‘Bad Jew’?

Why would such a woman, who our Mother Sarah would be proud of, regard herself as being a ‘sinner’?

Oh ja, she told me why:

Because she gives her children Jelly Tots BBDC!

Excuse me.

What did I just write?

Where on earth would Jews get the idea that eating Jelly Tots BBDC makes them a “Bad Jew”? What a ridiculous concept. How can someone regard themselves as ‘bad’. As ‘sinners’

Where would such un-Godly thoughts and concepts come from?

Oh, I know where these ‘Bad Jews’ get these alien concepts from…..

They get them from ‘Frum’ Jews

Frum Jews who place the importance of Kosher Certification, a hechsher, over all other Godly pursuits

Another story….

On Shavuot (last week), we had lunch at some friends of ours. A friend of theirs arrived for lunch. Over the past several years, their friend has been getting more involved in Judaism.

Jelly Tots came up in conversation, which included the fact that Jelly Tots are now Beth Din Certified. We discussed the fact that the ‘frum’ Jewish community was abuzz with excitement when the news broke ….

… that Jelly Tots were “Kosher”.

When stock first arrived on the shelves, the ‘Good Jews’ who were lucky to be at the stores suffered minor injuries, attacking one another to get a piece of the Jelly Tot BDK# (see key below) action

This friend of theirs could not believe that ‘frum’ Jews were so concerned about Jelly Tots BDK. She could not believe that ‘frum’ Jews got so excited about the Beth Din certification. She could not believe that ‘frum’ Jews fought each other to get their hands on the newly launched product.

She wondered why ‘frum’ Jews didn’t spend that time helping poor people, or doing other Godly work? Why would ‘frum’ Jews, ‘Godly’ Jews spend more time discussing Jelly Tots BBDC and Jelly Tots BDK than having more meaningful discussions

What leads Godly Jews to refer to themselves at ‘Bad Jews’? What leads ‘frum’ Jews to focus their Jewish pursuits on the hechsher of an already Kosher product?

Jelly Tots have always been Kosher. Yes, there are opinions who would disagree, but there are many opinions that would wholeheartedly agree that Jelly Tots BBDC* were Kosher. I am not talking about the opinions of my mate Rob’s Rebbe (his Rebbe is his pet dog). I am talking about opinions of well respected rabbinic minds and halachists.

If you think that only the most ‘left’, ‘liberal’, ‘reform’ of Rabbis would say Jelly Tots BBDC* were Kosher, you are wrong.

Yes, there are opinions that say Jelly Tots BBDC* were not kosher, but many more would call Jelly Tots BBDC Kosher.

Kosher according to halacha.

Kosher according to Torah

Perhaps you are a ‘frum’ Jew, like me, who thinks that only ‘lenient’ opinions would have allowed Jelly Tots BBDC

If that’s what you are thinking, let’s look at it from the other extreme (word chosen intentionally)

Let’s look it from another perspective (word chosen for those who took offense to previous word).

Let’s see if we should rely on hechshers to determine our ‘frumkeit’, our Godliness.

Let’s use the largest Glatt Kosher slaughterhouse in America.

Yep, Glatt Kosher.

For those that don’t know, in simple terms (after all, I am simple)Glatt Kosher is Very kosher. Extra Kosher

The cows wear sheitels.

Anyways, over the past few years, there have been a few ‘issues’ at this Glatt Kosher facility. The issues include the hiring of illegal and underage workers, the treatment of staff, the treatment of the animals and, the one all ‘Good Jews’ care about, the Kosher methods by which the animals are slaughtered/shechted.

Once the largest Glatt Kosher slaughterhouse began appearing in the press, various leading Rabbis , primarily in the United States and Israel, started to assess the methods by which the animals were being killed (by the way, when determining whether the meat was Kosher, the way the staff and animals were treated were not of concern to these ‘leading’ Rabbis – but that pathetic Rabbinic behavior is an aside)

Turns out, there was a split of opinions. There were rabbis who called the meat ‘treif’. There were rabbis who labeled the meat not-kosher. And there were rabbis who said the meat was perfectly Kosher.

Now, here is a Glatt Kosher slaughterhouse, with many rabbis who claimed the meat was treif and/or not-kosher. Other Rabbis said it was indeed Kosher.

Some Rabbis would agree to Kosher certification(i.e. a hechsher). Other Rabbis would not.

So, if the Kosher certification of certain kashrut agencies hechsher did not appear on the meat, would the ‘frum’ people eating that meat suddenly stop consuming?

No, they would not

But why?

Because the consumers of this Glatt Kosher meat did not care if Rabbi X or organization Y gave the meat hechsher or not. People who ate, and continue to eat the meat, KNOW, that according to their opinions, and their Rabbinic leaders, the meat is Kosher.

They did not care if other’s disagreed.

There was enough halachic support to show that the meat was, and is, indeed Kosher

In this Glatt Kosher case, was it ‘liberal’, ‘lefty’, ‘reform’ Rabbis who agreed (or were of the opinion) that the Glatt Kosher meat was Kosher?

Certainly not

Some leading Rabbis said the meat was treif and/or not-kosher and some leading Rabbis said…

“Ez Gezunt”

It’s not the certification that determined the Kashrut of the meat. It was the halacha, and the opinions of Rabbis that people choose to follow

Some leading Rabbis and organisations refuse to Kosher certify this particular Glatt Kosher meat. They regard this Glatt Kosher meat at treif and/or not-Kosher.

Does that mean it is not-Kosher or/and treif?

Some leading Rabbis regard Jelly Tots BBDC as Kosher.

Does that mean it is?

Well… is the beauty - and complexity - of Judaism…..

The answer to both those questions is:

Yes, depending on who you follow

Here’s the dilemma for us ‘frum’ Jews:

We now use the term “Kosher” when we should be using the words “Kosher Certified”

• Have we become ’frum’ Jews who have placed Kosher certification above Torah and God?

• Have we reduced our Judaism to rebuking Jews incorrectly and inappropriately?

• Have we turned our Judaism into an ‘us’ and ‘them’, labeling Jews as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ over the eating of flippin’ Jelly Tots?

How many of us ‘frum’ Jews would:

Say to another Jew, “Don’t eat that, it’s not Kosher”


Say to another parent: “Don’t give that to your kids, it’s not Kosher”


Freak out when you see your kids dig into a marshmellow Easter Egg

(aahh, I used to love those things)

Well, many of the treats, mass produced products and drinks that appear on our supermarket shelves are indeed Kosher (according to many leading Rabbis). I am not talking about chicken, and meat, and fish, and eating at non-kosher restaurants. I am talking about your average sweet. Or snack. Or loaf of bread. Or drink.

Yes, even the ones without kosher certification

I don’t eat, drink, or consume products that do not have Beth Din Certification. And I don’t give my kids food or drink that is not Beth Din Certified. But I do that because I am damn lazy. It’s easy to rely on the Beth Din. Whether I should or not (given the Glatt Kosher slaughterhouse example) is another debate.

But I do.

I could investigate every product. I could read all the ingredients. I could learn the halacha about certain food additives and animal derivatives. I could use my God-given brain to study Kashrut Halacha and apply it to my life.

But I am too freakin’ lazy.

So, I rely on the Beth Din (for better or for worse).

The fact that I rely on the Beth Din does not mean that non-Beth Din certified products are not Kosher.

What it means, is that non-Deth Din Certified products are not Certified by the Beth Din.

There are many products and services out there are NOT-Kosher……..according to ALL opinions

(aahhh, I miss Spur)

But many products are Kosher, according to MANY opinions, despite not having the Beth Din Certification

So, next time we ‘frum’ Jews call people, or allow Jews to call themselves, ‘Bad Jews’ for eating Jelly Tots BBDC (or similar), think about what’s important:

• Have we degraded our religion to one that focuses on Jelly Tots?

• Should we rebuke someone for eating something that is Kosher according to the Torah and halachah, but perhaps not Kosher Certified?

• Should we acknowledge that there is a difference between Kosher and Kosher certified?
• Should we rely on our ‘holier than though’ hechsher rating system to make us feel good about our ‘progress’ in developing ourselves as Godly Jews, in the mould of our Father Abraham, our Mother Sarah, our Prophet Moses (no image attached)?

• Should we be doing our homework, and use our God given brains and intellect to investigate for ourselves, and discern the difference between Kosher and Kosher Certified?

Nuff said….

For now



*Before Beth Din Certification

# Beth Din Kosher

1 comment:

  1. I am an ex-south african jew living in the US. While I do not keep kosher or even practice much anymore, I thought your discussion was very interesting. nice work.