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  • Major New Acceptance for Triangle-K/Hebrew National As Kosher

    by Steven I. Weiss

    The legitimacy and trustworthiness of the Triangle-K kosher supervision agency are often maligned in the kosher-keeping community, for reasons that are most often not clear at all (1, 2, 3, 4). One thing that’s been pushing a re-evaluation of Triangle-K, particularly in liberal Orthodox areas, is the fact that it’s been certifying Hebrew National’s meat for a few years now, with Hebrew National using particularly-humane methods of slaughter — something the liberal Orthodox are especially eager to find, in light of the Agriprocessors situation.

    And now Rabbi Asher Lopatin — a leading liberal-Orthodox rabbi, member of the RCA, and often known these days as Rahm Emanuel’s rabbi — has changed his position on Hebrew National:

    Chaveirim,

    Before Shabbat I have to ask charata: I mentioned that someone told me that Rabbi Ralbag said not to eat Hebrew National. However, this week I had a long conversation with Rav Aryeh Ralbag, and he told me that you can rely on Hebrew National 100%, that he follows all the p’sakim of the Aruch HaShulchan, the Posek Acharon for Lita, and that he does eat Hebrew National products himself. In his home he buys only ‘glatt’, but he is happy to eat Hebrew National outside his home, and he tells his congregants that they can eat it also.

    There is a lot more to discuss, but I was impressed on the phone. Rav Aryeh Ralbag is also the chief rabbi and posek for the Jewish community in Holland. He also assured me that his meat is not shackled and hoisted, but, rather, follows the suggestions of animal expert Temple Grandin – she was praised in the Orthodox Israeli magazine, “Mishpacha” – in shechting in a way that is least painful and traumatic for the animals. He also assured me that all his foreign mashgichim, bodkim and shochtim have R1 visas issued by the govt. He says the shochtim are given regular b’chinos every few months, and that implied to me, that they are well supervised.

    I realize that many in the hashgacha world have questions about the Triangle K, but, I wanted to correct and error that I had about Rav Ralbag’s attitude towards his products.

    Shabbat shalom,

    Asher Lopatin

    Note how even here, the rumor-mill of kosher plays a huge role, with someone falsely informing Lopatin that Ralbag thinks the meat isn’t kosher, and Lopatin initially acting on that. If most people would actually go to the source for real answers, like Lopatin eventually did, there’d be a lot less confusion, distrust and finger-pointing in the world of kosher.

    July 28, 2009 | Read more Newsdesk posts. 12 Comments »

    Comments

    12 Comments »

    1. There are many prominent rabbis in the Orthodox world that have also taken the line, “don’t quote me, but…” when it comes to Hebrew National. It sounds to me that they’re okay with the hot dogs, uncomfortable with the stigma they’ll create.

      Comment by Susanne — July 28, 2009 @ 7:50 am

    2. I would love to see this but unfortunately the kosher industry is all politics, most Rabbis won’t even give you an opinion on a sister organization let alone something as controversial as triangle-K

      My Rav has told me repeatedly that Triangle is good for products not containing any meat or oil in them due to past issues.

      Comment by Heshy Fried — August 3, 2009 @ 8:54 am

    3. So what is the verdict then guys, is Hebrew National a reliable HUMANE hot dog to buy or not? I have to know this before we can purchase the product, as it is something my husband and I take seriously. Would appreciate your input!

      Comment by JLWW — September 20, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

    4. when it comes to kasrut, the humane thing doesn’t really matter so much in and of itself, but it does engender an atmosphere of trust and responsibility, which are important

      Comment by Simon — July 4, 2010 @ 3:22 am

    5. Steve,

      In what alternate universe is Asher Lopatin “major”? Because Rahm Emanuel belonged to the synagogue Asher is leaving?

      A major rabbi would have done a little more than have one telephone conversation.

      Lisa

      Comment by Lisa — August 2, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

    6. Lisa -

      Lopatin is broadly considered a leading figure in the liberal Modern Orthodox rabbinate, and a leader of that liberal wing of the RCA. If asked to name five liberal Modern Orthodox rabbis leading their agenda these days, most observers would include him, just after Weiss and Angel.

      More importantly for this item in particular, Lopatin is the only Modern Orthodox leader I’m aware of to make a statement of such support for the Triangle K and Ralbag — where the vast majority of rabbis would say the opposite based upon no personal investigation at all.

      Comment by Steven I. Weiss — August 3, 2010 @ 6:40 am

    7. It seems to me that it obviously most Rabbeim would prohibit the use of Triangle-k meat containing products because most communities have stopped using the Kosher only Halachic standard for Basar and use only (Chalak or) Glatt. However, THESE RABBEIM SHOULD STOP MALIGNING RALBAG and THE TRIANGLE-K and give the reason NOT ENCOURAGE the RUMOR MILLS. Obviously this is an issue over monies on who’s Hashgachah wants which manufacturer. Recently I was told that I could not use Manischewitz wines (it has an O-U) but I could use Kedem (it has an O-U). Politics? Money?

      Comment by Benjamin — December 5, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    8. I take Kashrut seriously and the fact that Rabbi Ralbag will not bring Hebrew National products into his own house says it all for me. Why eat suspect products, especially since we live in a time when there is a vast variety of products available that are truly Kosher by every standard.

      Comment by Paul Zilberfein — August 3, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

    9. Paul – Read the article a little more closely. Rabbi Ralbag says he does not bring Hebrew National into his home because he keeps glatt at home. No one is arguing that Hebrew National is glatt, only that it is not treif.

      Comment by mp775 — August 16, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    10. I personally spoke to R’ Lopatin after the article in which he was quoted and asked him the obvious question, i.e., whether he permitted Hebrew National for his congregation. The answer was no! There were two reasons. He had not been to the plant to see actually whether the meat was being slaughtered properly and it was thus premature and there was too much distrust in Hebrew National. I do not know if he ever actually accepted Hebrew National. BTW, it has been reported by a number of news services today that Hebrew National has just been sued by a group of consumers alleging that their meat is not Kosher.

      Comment by R' Joel Kessler — June 18, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    11. [...] This is despite wide-held Rabbinic acceptance of their supervision in recent years (see “Major New Acceptance for Triangle-K/Hebrew National As Kosher” at JTC). True the suspicion of Hebrew National predates their relationship, but them contracting [...]

      Pingback by Kosher Meat: Once again, a tender subject « Hardcore Mesorah — June 22, 2012 @ 3:32 am

    12. Before mentioning the lawsuit in a discussion such as this, it is important to do some research. Otherwise you just feed the rumor mill, because some people will instantly use the fact a lawsuit has been filed as evidence that Hebrew National is guilty. In fact, the guy behind the lawsuit was fired some years ago by Hebrew National for incompetence. He took his case to a court and was soundly defeated. This puts a whole new light on whether the lawsuit should even be mentioned in a discussion such as this. Indeed the first step in that lawsuit hasn’t even happened – the court deciding whether it has the authority to decide whether or not something is kosher (personally, I think the court does not). It’s also important to note that in the lawsuit the guy says Hebrew National doesn’t follow strict Orthodox law. … I think he means ‘Its
      Got To Be Glatt’ … and clearly Hebrew National makes no such claim.

      Comment by Newsman — January 10, 2013 @ 9:45 am

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