To some it is an old story, hardly newsworthy. To others it is evidence of a world conspiracy suggesting "the Mark of the Beast." For me, it's something quite frightening. It's called "The Kosher Tax."
According to the Official 2010 Census, there are approximately 6.5-million people in the USA who describe themselves as being ethnically Jewish. That's a whopping 2.1% of the population. Of these 6.5-million, less than 25% admit to being Orthodox, attend Temple or are otherwise religious. That's a population about the size of Philadelphia.
The 1.6-million Jews that observe traditions of the Torah and Talmud adhere to strict dietary laws that prohibit certain food combinations, methods of slaughter and eating certain "unclean" animals, such as pork and bottom-feeders like lobsters.
Food that meets these strict requirements must be supervised in its production by a Rabbi and only then will it be certified as "Kosher". These foods are marked in a special way by affixing a Kosher symbol on the product's label. The most common one in America is the letter "U" inside a circle, or the letter "K" -- but there are many more.
Because food producers must hire the services of a Rabbi to inspect and verify that they comply with these strict regulations, organizations like The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations collect a fee for their services. This fee adds to the cost of producing the food, which is, of course, passed along to the end consumer as a so-called "Kosher Tax".
So what? You don't buy Kosher food -- or do you?
Take a minute right now to check out your kitchen pantry or that bag of chips you're munching. If you're like me, you will be shocked to see that just about everything has one of these Kosher symbols on it. (Go ahead, I'll wait for you to return...)
It seems that just about everyone in the USA -- all 307,006,550 of us -- are regularly buying Kosher food and paying this tax. That's quite surprising, don't you think?
Manufacturers claim that the increase in food prices due to this tax is "minuscule", yet reports claim that the tax is levied on more than 400,000 products in 8,000 plants in 80 different countries. The Union (U) employs approximately 1,000 supervisors, mashgichim in Hebrew, and about 50 rabbinic coordinators. But they are not the only ones doing this. The next largest is Rabbi Bernard Levy's "Committee For The Furtherance of Torah Observance" which uses the "K" symbol. Canadian Kosher products are stamped with the letters "COR" which stands for "Council of Orthodox Rabbis". If you're in another country, chances are they have a special organization collecting the tax and affix a special symbol on your food. Here's a partial collection below.
In the 1920s the Union (U) started its operation. The H. J. Heinz Company's Vegetarian Beans became the first product to be kosher certified by the Union in 1923. Today it's hard to find a food item in the supermarket that doesn't have one of these symbols.
Some more surprises!
What's even more surprising is that some of the Kosher certified products are certainly NOT produced for Jews. Consider the Premium Relish for Pork [below]. What's up with that? Remember, pork is a definite no-no for those keeping Kosher.
In researching this article I have found Kosher aluminum foil, Kosher soap pads, toilet cleaner, plastic wrap... the list of non-food items paying the Kosher tax goes on ad infinitum.
This is NOT about Jews! It's about business.
When I tried to get information about the tax I was told by some Jewish organizations that I was anti-Semitic and my question was some kind of hate crime. Hey, I'm Mexican-American and I'm the last one to single anyone out for their race. This is about a business practice and I'd be questioning it if it were Irish Catholics or my own Latino people who were doing this.
The Jewish Anti-Defamation League even sent me a pamphlet, claiming that many non-Jews prefer products with the Kosher certification, believing that it assures them of hygiene and purity. So I thought I'd test this hypothesis by taking a stroll through my local Safeway supermarket and speaking candidly with some fellow customers.
My first shopper was buying olive oil. After I introduced myself, I asked if he knew what the circle-U symbol on the bottle meant. "No, I have no idea."
In the next aisle, an elderly woman was buying some chocolate cake mix. Did she know about the circle-U symbol? "I really never noticed it before. What does it mean?"
This continued with dozens of random customers until I was approached by a member of Safeway's customer service who likely thought I was soliciting in their store. "Can I help you with something, Sir?" Sure enough, not even she could explain what it meant. She was shocked to see it on everything and when I saw her a few minutes later, after she had checked the products in many different aisles, she said, "I'm going to go crazy now that you've shown this to me. It's on everything. What does it mean?"
Only one customer came close. "Oh, the U... it means the company used union labor, I think." Close, but as they say in America, no cigar.
Another thing that kind of defeats the argument that non-Jews prefer Kosher products is that product labels appearing in advertisements usually have the Kosher indicia airbrushed out, except in Jewish trade magazines, where they feature red arrows to draw attention to the Kosher symbol. Hmmm.
According to New York Orthodox Rabbi Schulem Rubin:
"Kosher doesn't taste any better; kosher isn't healthier; kosher doesn't have less salmonella. You can eat a Holly Farm chicken which sells for 39 cents a pound on sale, and next taste a Kosher chicken selling for $1.69 a pound, and not tell the difference. There's a lot of money to be made! Religion is not based on logic!" - The Washington Post (November 2, 1987)
Billions of dollars? Do the math!
Back in 2003, Menachem Lubinsky, editor of Kosher Today, a New York-based newsletter, said the number of certified kosher products had soared from 16,000 in 1977 to 80,000, including such well-known food items as Oreo cookies. He said about a third of all supermarket items were certified kosher. In 2003, kosher foods comprised about $170 billion of the $500 billion in U.S. food sales.
That was then... this is now. Today the figures are shocking: Kosher certification is on over 400,000 food items, about 80% of the 1.508-trillion US dollars [*] spent on food and beverages annually! -- source. Do the math... That's some serious "minuscule" money!
Well, this is too weird. So I throw the question out to the public and seek an explanation. Why are 300-million non-Jews in America paying a tax that benefits a small, "minuscule" portion of the population. Perhaps there is a perfectly good answer -- anyone?
Now some hateful people will claim that the money collected from this Kosher Tax is going to support the State of Israel. Many will have no problem with that, but some will. Before you get upset about this, the Anti-Defamation League's pamphlet assures us that it is not. According to their pamphlet the money goes to the Rabbis who make the inspections and the dozens of organizations associated with the various Kosher indicia. I don't know otherwise and apparently we have to take their word on this. But, wait a minute...
According to Wikipedia, The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (U):
"...supports a network of synagogues, youth programs, Jewish and Religious Zionist advocacy, programs for the disabled, localized religious study programs, and some international units with locations in Israel and formerly in Ukraine."
Religious Zionist are described by Wikipedia as follows:
"Religious Zionists are observant Jews who support Zionist efforts to build a Jewish state in the Land of Israel."
Leaving that controversy for a moment, some interesting things have been in the news of late. Most significant was the charge by some Kosher authorities that Hebrew National Kosher Hot Dogs were -- ready for this? -- NOT Kosher!
June 18 (Reuters) - ConAgra Foods Inc has been sued by consumers who contend that hot dogs and other products sold under its Hebrew National brand are not kosher.
The lawsuit alleges that meat processing services provided to ConAgra by privately held AER Services Inc fell short of the standards necessary to label Hebrew National products as kosher. As a result, they said, ConAgra misled consumers and was able to charge premium prices.
Eleven individual consumers filed their complaint in May in Minnesota state court. ConAgra moved the case this month to a federal court in St. Paul. The lawsuit was reported last week by American Jewish World, a publication based in Minnesota.
According to the complaint, Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra marks Hebrew National packages with a "Triangle K" symbol, and represents that the contents are kosher "as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.
But the plaintiffs said in the complaint that AER supervisors "did little or nothing" to address employee complaints that the meat processed for ConAgra was non-kosher. They also said Skokie, Illinois-based AER fired or threatened retaliation against those who complained.
ConAgra spokeswoman Teresa Paulsen said in a statement on Monday: "While we can't comment on pending litigation, we stand behind the quality of Hebrew National and its kosher status."
AER is not a defendant in the lawsuit. "The allegations in the complaint regarding AER are completely and utterly false," Shlomoh Ben-David, AER's president, said in a telephone interview. "There is no basis for them, and they are without any merit."
ConAgra has long used the slogan "we answer to a higher authority" to promote Hebrew National products.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and an injunction against further mislabeling. Their lawsuit seeks class-action status for U.S. purchasers of Hebrew National products over the last four years, and alleges negligence and violations of state consumer fraud laws.
"This is an invisible fraud," Hart Robinovitch, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview. "How does a consumer who thinks he is buying kosher meat really know he is buying kosher meat? It's a very, very difficult thing for a consumer to detect, unless someone investigates."
Other ConAgra brands include Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Peter Pan and Reddi-wip, and are not part of the lawsuit.
ConAgra shares closed down 2 cents at $24.95 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The case is Wallace et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No. 12-01354.
Here's a few more stories that will pique your interest.
Is there "meat" in Coca Cola?
Rabbi Tobias Geffen was an Orthodox Rabbi living in Atlanta -- the home of Coca Cola. When he was asked by his congregation whether Coca Cola was Kosher, he approached the company and asked to see a list of ingredients. The exact formula for Coca Cola is one of the most guarded and secrets any company (second only to how much the U-tax costs), so this was a big problem.
In a brilliant decision, the manufacturers gave the Rabbi a list of ingredients which included the real ingredients, but also listed many other items not used in the making of the soft drink. The Rabbi was asked if anything on the list was a problem.
According to The Jewish Virtual Library:
"When Geffen was given the list of ingredients, he discovered that one of them was glycerin made from non-kosher beef tallow. Even though a laboratory chemist told Geffen that the glycerin was present in only one part per thousand (one part in 60 is dilute enough to earn kosher certification), Geffen informed the Coca-Cola Company that, since this glycerin was a planned rather than accidentally added ingredient, observant Jews could not knowingly tolerate its inclusion. Coke failed to meet Geffen's standards.
Back at the company's laboratories, research scientists went to work finding a substitute for tallow-based glycerin and discovered that Proctor and Gamble produced a glycerin from cottonseed and coconut oil. When they agreed to use this new ingredient, Geffen gave his hecksher, or seal of approval, for Coke to be marketed as kosher." [source]
But the controversy, first revealed by the Kosher test, remains today. Consider this brochure from Burger King which describes their Coca Cola "Classic", apparently reverting to the old recipe.
What's up with that? Meat in Coca Cola... tell me it isn't so! Anyone?
Countries Ban Kosher Meat Because of Cruelty
When animals are slaughtered today, they are usually stunned with a metal bolt that is thrust against their skull, sometimes piercing it, and rendering them unconscious. That's a good thing for the unfortunate animal because what follows is even worse. The animal has its throat cut and is hung up on a hook, skinned and disemboweled. You certainly wouldn't want an animal to consciously face that horrible suffering. Not only is it bad for the animal but the release of adrenaline and other hormones associated with a painful death permeate the meat through the blood and, some say, can effect those who eat it.
But Kosher tradition requires that the animal NOT be stunned. Instead, it must be kept conscious and alive while it pumps its own blood out through its severed neck arteries and veins. Animal activists have deemed this practice cruel and have demanded that it be stopped.
Five European countries have banned Kosher killing methods [source] and the latest to join them is New Zealand. This has caused the Jewish community to claim that such acts constitute anti-Semitism and their refuting arguments begin by mentioning Hitler.
"One of the first steps in Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic drive in the creation of his Third Reich was instituting a ban on the kosher slaughter of animals.
Today, as a new wave of ugly, and sometimes violent, anti-Semitism sweeps through the European continent, at least five countries have banned kosher food production, and one of them is considering halting all import of kosher meat."
It's a controversy that threatens the heart of Kosher tradition and practice. And it's one that I will not even touch... and one that I'm sure will keep me awake with bad dreams tonight.
No Reply from the Big-U
I wrote to the Union (U) and asked them specifically about the aluminum foil and pork relish, but have not received a reply. Perhaps you can help.
The next time you go to your local supermarket, look around at who's in there. It's likely not Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, Hindus or other people, worried about their faith's dietary laws. No, it's hard working people trying to take care of their families in these difficult economic times. It's people who have their own beliefs who expect others to leave them alone and not tax them each time they buy milk or cookies for their children. It's people who would likely get angry if they thought they were contributing even a penny to a country with whose policies they don't agree.
I put the question out there for someone to answer: Why would a manufacturer of things like aluminum foil or Pork relish feel obligated to be endorsed by such a "minuscule" population, making the majority of its customers pay a tax that has no relevance to them?... Just asking.
Now, back to my kosher Ravioli and kosher Dunkin Donuts coffee! Mmmmmmm!
We welcome opposing views and encourage anyone with answers to these questions to write us and we'll publish responsible disclosures. If there is an explanation for this business practice then we're anxious to hear it. We also don't condone hate towards anyone, so please don't send us anything racists or inflammatory. Once again, this is about business. - Editor
I know I am in a minority, but I am a non-Jew who buys kosher meat and poultry. I do this because of the lack of effectiveness with the USDA in assuring that our food supply (in the USA) is free from disease. I'm sure you have seen the many exposés where sick animals are routinely slaughtered and sold in the markets. Animals that cannot walk or show possible signs of "mad cow" disease are often ground up and fed to the healthy cattle.
We pay taxes to the Federal government to screen our food for us -- perhaps even more than the kosher tax, yet they have failed us. Recalls of e-coli infested beef or chickens with claustridia are routinely reported in the news. Now, beyond beef and pountry, I really do not understand the meaning of "kosher" when applied to such things as aluminum foil (which I found in my pantry!).
I want to add something to the comments by JWalt. I found this item interesting:
"To be kosher, cows must be younger than 30 months. Dairy cows are never used. Kosher laws preclude using a stun gun or a bullet to the brain, which could scatter brain and nerve tissue (a source of mad cow disease). The animal must be hand-slaughtered by slitting its neck. Religious inspectors look for signs of broken bones, disease or scarred or punctured organs, which disqualify the animal. Downer cattle are never used, and about only 40% of healthy cattle qualify as kosher. Meat can be taken from only the forequarters; it is then soaked and salted to draw out the blood."
"Kosher poultry cannot show any signs of being pecked, sick or injured. The birds are killed with a slit to the neck, allowing the blood to drain out. They're never plunged into hot water (a theoretical source of bacterial contamination), but are washed in cold water before being soaked, salted and washed again. Experts in the koshering process say the extensive use of salt helps kill bacteria."
The kosher trade -- the good, the bad and the ugly
The latest chapter in this story has emerged in America's remote mid west in Postville, Iowa, where Agriprocessors, the nation's biggest kosher slaughterhouse serving millions of kosher consumers, is based -- a little island of Orthodox Judaism on the Prairie, where cowboy hats have been replaced by the broad rim black hats of the good 'ole Haredi (strictly orthodox) boys.
But this unique meeting of the Old West with a distinct community that had travelled, via New York, from the lost world of Jewish eastern Europe -- once celebrated as a 21st century cultural fusion -- backfired in May when government agents suddenly raided the Postville plant and arrested 389 allegedly undocumented employees.
They were said to be impoverished illegals from Central America and, particularly shocking, were claims by state officials that dozens of underage workers were employed there in violation of child labour laws. Agriprocessors has denied any wrongdoing.
Now, rabbis are at each others throat over the new allegations involving Postville plant, spurring calls by some Jews demanding that food companies be judged not just by the purity of their products but by their business conduct.
The debate spurred by alleged labour conditions at Agriprocessors, has aggravated old, and not so old, tensions in the Jewish world -- between Orthodox and non-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox and traditional, those who want Jews to close ranks and those who want to open up debate.
"How can you sit at your table and eat a product packaged by a pregnant woman who has been standing on her feet all day?" asked Rabbi Morris Allen of Minnesota. He is developing a certification initiative -- a "hekhsher tzedek," or "certificate of righteousness" -- that aims to protect workers and the environment in the kosher industry.
Many Jews are embarrassed and angered by the allegations and, along with some religious leaders, are rethinking what it means to be certified kosher.
Defenders of kosher ritual slaughter claim it's more humane and abrogates unnecessary cruelty, but it's really a dirty business dressed up with poetic symbolism. Really, all abattoirs and slaughterhouses -- kosher, halal, whatever -- are vile places, and its just denial not to admit that the animals sent to die within the blood-splattered walls, experience a levels of fear and terror.
Shouldn't such suffering be deemed 'treif'? Meanwhile, the consumption of meat is bad for the environment and health-wise not great either. Interestingly, The Seventh-day Adventist Church has angled in this direction. They are Christians with a distinct Old Testament/Torah leaning and expect adherence to the kosher laws in Leviticus 11. But, they go further advocating a vegetarian-based health message and, as a result, its followers have the greatest longevity of any group in the USA.
So the message seems to be don't eat meat: live longer, live better.
Really, I don't care about the health benefits of kosher food. From what I've read it is a blatant scam and, as you reported, even so-called "Kosher" hotdogs are not really kosher. The concern I have is that this is being done without my consent and the money is going to Zionist religious organizations. They say, and they always use this word, it is "minuscule"... so prove it! Let's have one example from a major food company, a real figure of exactly what the costs are. Then we can decide for ourselves.
By failing to reveal the expense of the kosher tax on the products we regularly buy, there is the strong suspicion that it is a significant amount. Each time I fill the grocery basket or cart for my family -- how much am I promoting the ill treatment of the Palestinians through Zionist capital? I want to know- damn it! I'm angry.
I wouldn't mind paying some organization to give me peace of mind that my food was clean and sanitary. I'd pay for that happily. But if that money went to a country who oppressed the Palestinians, stockpiled nuclear weapons and then tried to engage America in another war of convenience for their own benefit then I would object. And I do object.
Good information that the rest of the goyim (cattle) need - but are jes tooooooo stooopid to do anything about it I'm afraid. o.O
[but let us hope that it will change with the unstoppable bombardment of truth]
In 1968, at age 28, I went strictly veggie. Nobody told me I should do it. My reasoning at the time was only that eating animals must have some deleterious effects on humans because the stuff stank and looked and tasted so awful no matter how it was prepared. When I was gnawing on a lump of animal flesh, my mouth felt unclean and I had visions of animals being slaughtered and all the attendant horrors of it.
I learned immediately that being vegetarian was not cool. I checked with five medical doctors, one after the other. Each one told me plainly that if I stopped eating meat, I would die, and was referred to the sacred "Four Foods Group," in which vegetables occupied only one or two slots. I communed with everybody I knew, trying to get the lowdown. I was totally alone in my decision to stop eating animal flesh amidst a chorus of, "You will die, you fool," on the lips of everybody I knew and various literature on the subject. Naively, my reasoning was that cows eat nothing but grass and they seem to survive (at least until humans slaughter them to eat.) Why couldn't I eat grass, as cows do, and still thrive? I discovered the answer to that canard by and by, which is too involved to go into here and let me leave it with this: I was a naive 28-year-old with limited research facilities and had to go with vague intuitions to begin the fray.
At that time, nutrition was counted almost entirely in terms of calories, or metabolic heat factors. Linus Pauling had just recently come on the scene with his revelations about Vitamin C. I read the book and was bolstered in the direction of vitamins to go along with my intuitional drive to go vegetarian.
Miraculously, immediately after I announced to the world around me, "Okay, I will just go ahead and kill myself by going vegetarian," and restricted my animal intake altogether, the science of nutrition exploded in a super-nova of information so rich and varied that it was impossible for me even to attempt keeping abreast of it except generally, but it was the support I needed. Now, after more than 45 years of the strict veggie life, my decision to do it is vindicated on the lips of millions today. The five doctors that condemned my decision are no doubt dead today. Today, the medical establishment generally has thrown out the "one or two vegetables per day" regimen and encourage, "eat all the veggies you can every day." It's a big leap from the old days.
I consider vegetarianism to be the finest thing I ever did for myself. It is medically known that roughly every seven years the typical human body dies incrementally and all the replaceable cells (which are most of them) are replaced. My reasoning is, if cellular replacement is in same-old same old fashion, the new cells pretty much take on the characteristics of the old ones and deterioration is always worse than replacement can keep abreast of, even in the face of the "Four Foods Group" nutrition plan. Thus, I am currently in the fifth year of the seventh cellular replacement since I quit eating animal flesh in 1968. In two more years, all the cells in my body will have been replaced seven times as a vegetarian that has not allowed animal flesh to pass my palate. It means that my cellular makeup is totally purged of animal matter and my consciousness is not affected by any errant forms of animal consciousness coursing through my blood stream and mucking up my brain and neurological makeup. Whereas, pre-1968 I was not sure whether I was the only one driving this thing that I think of as, "my body," and indeed, after weaning myself from flesh and tuning my thought processes a bit, it turns out that I was not "the only one driving this ship," today I am certain there is only one dictator in here, not a multitude. Ha, ha, ha. Let the reader go veggie for five or six "sevens" and find out for him/herself.
If the kosher tax comprises 1% of the cost of Koshered food, that means they collect 15 billion year if my lopping off of zeros was correct.
Those symbols are on everything! Wow. How did that happen? How do they get away with this?Thanks for the heads up.
Great article. I see that the official stance is to call criticism of the kosher tax an anti-Semitic "canard" (i.e. hoax) but where is the hoax? Everything seems to be absolutely true as far as I have been able to tell. And just try and get a business to tell you how much they paid (and charged to the consumer) and you will meet with fear and double talk.
I read where some people in Canada went so far as to claim the kosher tax as a deduction on their income tax -- as a donation to a religious organization! But without an accurate account of the charges it would be near impossible to do in the United Kosher States of America!
Really, what happened to this country in the last few decades? Is it the kosher fluoride in our water that has made us so gullible and easy prey for these vultures? Really! Why does "anti-American" not have the same impact as "anti-Semitic"? What's happened to us as a country?
Don't fret viewzone. Your message is getting out loud and clear. These people have controlled the (1) entertainment business and media; (2) the banking and financial institutions and the (3) political system - 1-2-3- the "triangle" of control over Amerika. Just look where they live in the USA -- New York City, Washington CD and Hollywood. But we are waking up to it. Watch your back, viewzone. Watch your back Geraldo!
Not sure if you have seen this but boxing star Miguel Cotto wears a kosher tattoo on his right shoulder along with other satanic and tribal tattoos... For good luck? Hmmm.
Right on Peep33....I second everything you said...I could not have said it better...
I would add "If you read it here you know it has been well researched" Great site.
Hello Viewzone. I want to make a comment. YouTube is owned by Google, the people who supply the ad banners that you felt afraid to post on this page. I understand that. But I just read that Google refused to take down the film "Innocence of Muslims" because they said it did not violate their terms and conditions and they hailed "free speech" and all that. So my question is this: Why can someone post insulting depictions of Mohammed, claim he is pedophile and womanizer, totally speak hatefully about Islam... and then you cannot post an article about Jewish kosher business practices without fear of reprisal from Google? Something is really really wrong here. Please enlighten me.
What are the legal ramifications, e.g. truth in labeling? Shouldn't the
little kosher symbols be much larger and fully explained (what Bible
texts are used to grant a "U", or a "K", or any other sign) to the
How can atheists protect themselves from unwittingly supporting
religion? Isn't this a First Amendment right: the Separation of Church
and Plate? Those who don't consider the FDA reliable enough, let them
buy kosher, by all means. The rest should have an equal chance not to.