Terrified by the idea that I might find myself forced to boycott the OU

By | December 8, 2008

Shmarya Rosenberg reports that the OU’s NCSY is creating a service award named after a rabbi who protected Baruch Lanner for decades, concealing knowledge that Lanner had sexually abused children in his care and smearing the children and parents who dared to go public about the abuse.

It’s just one scandal after another with the OU.  The mother of all OU scandals (in my adult lifetime, at least) was, of course, the original Lanner scandal.  Then, more recently, we have Agriprocessors and the OU’s reprehensible handling of it (which I have written about before), and now we have the OU thumbing its nose yet again at Lanner’s victims by honoring a man who knowingly enabled Lanner’s abuse.

Then there are the many articles (for example) about OU kashrut supervisors who don’t actually supervise, and the fact that, as I wrote in the article referenced above, OU’s kashrut supervision division has turned into a huge profit center, which inevitably leads to the kind of corruption we’ve been seeing.  That’s not a problem that’s unique to the OU — it’s shared by all of the large, corporate kosher supervision agencies — but the OU is by far the biggest of them and therefore the most vulnerable to it.

What all this means is that I’m inching closer and closer to feeling like I should be boycotting the OU, both to protest its moral failings and in recognition of the fact that I’m not sure I can trust the kashrut of the products it certifies.

This terrifies me, because the vast majority of kosher-certified products we buy are certified by the OU, and in many cases there are no alternatives certified by other agencies.  Boycotting the OU would essentially be returning our family to the days when we would be unable to buy most of our groceries from the grocery story, and we would be unable to buy some staples at all.


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