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From Holland to Turkey, New Zealand to Montana, Quebec City to the Bahamas and everywhere in between, 115 dayanim, rabbonim, and directors of Kashrus organizations converged at the Sofitel in Montreal this week for a two-day conference to discuss contemporary kashrus issues. 

The achdus at such an event is noteworthy: kosher certifiers function as businesses, and thus the attendees are business competitors. However, for the betterment of kashrus standards world-wide, attendees put aside business and focus instead on sharing resources, comparing experiences, and upping standards wherever they can. Between presentations, participants networked, greeted old acquaintances, and made new friends in the industry. 

The conference was honored by the presence of Dayan Ahron Dunner, of London, who addressed the crowd and availed himself to many individual consultations. Rabbi Uri Deutsch, Mara D’asra of the Forest Park Kehilla in Lakewood, gave chizzuk to the attendees. Rav Menachem Meir Weissmandl of Nitra graced the convention as well. 

Montreal’s MK, directed by Rabbi Saul Emanuel, hosted the event. “The presenters we got were a diverse bunch covering many colorful topics,” said Rabbi Emanuel. Topics covered included the brachos and halachos of gluten free products, the kashering of metal trolleys used to move raw tuna into steam rooms in production facilities, and AKO standards for member hashgachas

While many of the event’s 115 attendees represented the largest kosher certifiers, many more attendees represented certifications in far-flung cities, who are present, for instance, at far-flung fisheries or coconut production plants. Many participants commented on the clear feeling that the conference was a kiddush shem shamayim in every sense: over 100 Jews gathered for the sole purpose of advancing the kashrus of today. 

Some noteworthy presentations included Agudah’s Rabbi Leibish Becker on the topic of certifying shul kitchens, Eric Baxter, VP and Senior Counsel at the Becket Religious Liberties Group, who spoke on the topic of “Kashrus Supervision in a Woke World,’ and the MK’s Rabbi Berel Bell who spoke about mainstreaming the kashrus standards of Chabad houses worldwide. 

A Monday night panel allowed attendees to present unique kashrus questions from the field to Dayan Dunner, Rav Weiss, and Rav Weissmandl. Another panel covered the kashrus questions which arise from home businesses.

Attendees particularly benefited from the expertise of MK’s Beis Din of skilled and trained rabbonim, who showcased some of the industry’s highest standards in presentations on ethics, the use of video cameras to supplement hashgacha in meat establishments, and collaboration and integrity in kashrus. 

Attendees walked away with newfound knowledge, new relationships, and a reinforcement that their responsibility, though sometimes overwhelmingly “nitty-gritty,” is avodas hakodesh and a tremendous source of chizzuk to Klal Yisrael.

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