Is it Kosher?

Misha Beshkin is the creator of the popular application “Isitkosher?” which innovatively includes all the big kosher authorities.

Allison Josephs,

Misha Beshkin
Misha Beshkin
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Misha Beshkin is the creator of the popular application “Isitkosher?”, aimed at helping the confounded consumer when they’re in a kosher quandary at the supermarket.

The application, available on the Android or iPhone, can scan over fifty databases in over thirty-five countries to verify the validity of a kosher hechsher on all products and items.

Useful on an international scope, the app innovatively includes all the big kosher authorities, and is constantly updated or notified for changes. "Isitkosher?" is just the most recent Jewish related web software Beshkin has developed, alongside “Simple Luach,” a Jewish calendar for your phone that lists all holidays, zmanim and can even tell you where the nearest minyan is.

Beshkin arrived at the idea for the mobile application when one of his friends decided to keep kosher, and frequently called him up, requesting that he check all the European kosher lists online in order to determine a food product’s kosher status. 

Based in Tallinn, Estonia, Beshkin admits that "Kosher food is not easy to come by, like it is in the States or Israel".

Feeling like a "call person at a call center", Beshkin used to hold the line with many curious callers and search through the European kosher lists on their behalf.

Beshkin’s story gives context to his knack for Jewish innovation.

He was originally born in nearby Latvia, in a city called Daugavpils. Both his grandfather’s served in the Soviet Army during the Second World War. His grandmother, who was from an observant home in Belarus, escaped to Southern Siberia right before the Nazi occupation.

After the war, when they settled in Latvia, it was his grandmother who did her utmost to keep the traditions alive. Despite the threat of punitive measures by the Communist regime towards any outward religious observance, she still managed take work off for Shabbat and keep the High Holy Days. Beshkin’s parents were like many Soviet Jews who secretly observed iconic Jewish traditions like the chuppah ceremony, but who were otherwise not observant. As Beshkin laments, "It wasn’t convenient, or easy to be outspokenly Jewish".

It wasn’t until Beshkin was twenty that he felt he needed more in his life and began to wonder about his identity and the meaning of being a Jew. Ironically it struck him during a kosher quandary. While eating out with his friends he suddenly held back at the thought of devouring the slices of meat on his cheesy pizza. Despite the easing of certain Soviet restrictions at the time, life as a Jew in Latvia was still difficult. Beshkin later moved to Estonia, the second Jewish observant family to settle there. The number of observant Jewish families has risen to five, and the larger Jewish community to 2,000.

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Allison Josephs is the founder and director of JewintheCity.com whose mission is to break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism".




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