In recognition of OU Kosher’s tremendous contributions over the past century to global kashrus efforts, the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency was conferred the esteemed Jerusalem Award on Sunday, June 4th at Israel National News - Arutz Sheva’s annual Jerusalem Conference at the New York Hilton Midtown.
This is the second year that the Jerusalem Conference was held in Manhattan, with the goal of strengthening the connection between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Centered on "Judaism, State, and Economy”, the plenary commemorated 75 years of Israel’s innovation, progress, and absorption and drew hundreds of participants including Knesset members, mayors, media personalities, and community and business leaders from both Israel and abroad. Among the notable personalities in attendance were Minister of Economy and Industry Nir Barkat, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Shikli, Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion, Chairperson of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, and the Hon. Ruchie Freier, acting New York Supreme Court justice.
The event included an awards ceremony where OU Kosher was among the recipients of the prestigious Jerusalem Prize.
“We have been following the OU’s activities for years, covering events and featuring their many projects,” said Arutz Sheva Editor Yoni Kempinski who served as master of ceremonies. “The 100th anniversary of this amazing agency is an opportunity to stop and pay gratitude.”
Kempinski sees OU Kosher as a model of what can be achieved when people of different values and viewpoints unite.
“One of the amazing characteristics of OU Kosher is the wide variety of walks of Orthodox Jewish life that are part of the enterprise,” he said. “Especially now, it's important that we all look at OU Kosher and learn that we can and must work together despite any differences and disagreements.”
OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer and OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Mordechai Stareshefsky accepted the award on behalf of the agency.
“To be included among the award winners along with leaders from Israel and the Diaspora speaks to OU Kosher’s global reach and inspires us to continue our meaningful work with the knowledge that we have the support of World Jewry,” said OU Kosher Chief Operating Officer Rabbi Moshe Elefant.
OU Kosher Chief Executive Officer Rabbi Menachem Genack added, “Like the OU, The Israel National News - Arutz Sheva media group is a community mainstay whose objective is also to assist and enlighten Am Yisrael. We are honored to receive the Jerusalem Award from such an impactful organization.”
Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary Rosh Yeshiva and OU Kosher Senior Posek Rabbi Hershel Schachter added, “I am proud and privileged to be connected with the kashrus organization of the OU. My impression is that OU Kosher is the biggest kashrus organization in the world. Many of the other kashrus organizations rely on the OU’s endorsement for ingredients used in the products that they supervise. All of the policies that are followed by all of the mashgichim of the OU, all over the world, are established by the rabbonim in the New York office, together with OU Kosher Chief Executive Officer Rabbi Menachem Genack, OU Kosher Chief Operating Officer Rabbi Moshe Elefant, OU Kosher Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Eli Gersten and myself."
Following the awards ceremony, Senior Correspondent at All Israel News and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) Tal Heinrich interviewed Rabbi Hauer about the OU’s mission and his perspectives as a thought leader on the current situation in Israel, in a special one-on-one session.
“This valuable conference, with the meaningful participation of Israeli and American Jewish leadership, underscores the critical role of the State of Israel as an anchor of Jewish identity for Diaspora Jewry and provides a forum to build and refine mutual understanding that can only benefit the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Hauer.