Teaneck, NJ – Kosher clash: Restaurant At Center of OK, RCBC Dispute

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    Ofira Zaken of Fair Lawn opened Ima in late May with supervision by the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. It occupied the former site of Café Adam, a dairy restaurant that also had issues with certification that eventually led to its closure.Teaneck, NJ – A kosher restaurant can be made or broken on the quality of its certification. In Teaneck, Ima Restaurant, open for less than a year, has become embroiled in a feud between the local rabbinical board and a national kashrut agency, each accusing the other of impropriety.

    Ofira Zaken of Fair Lawn opened Ima in late May with supervision by the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. It occupied the former site of Café Adam, a dairy restaurant that also had issues with certification that eventually led to its closure.

    Two weeks after the restaurant opened, the RCBC certificate disappeared from the restaurant’s window. The reason remained largely a mystery. Ima soon came under the supervision of International Kosher Council, a small agency based in New York City. In October, Zaken approached OK Labs, a Brooklyn-based international certifying agency affiliated with Chabad, which granted Ima certification after rekashering the kitchen, changing the locks on the restaurant, and giving the keys to a mashgiach tamidi, a full-time kosher supervisor.

    Ima is not the first restaurant in Bergen County to use the OK; the agency also certifies Hamsa in Tenafly and Kosher Express in Fair Lawn. The Teaneck-based Kof-K also certifies Sammy’s Bagels, while Star-K certifies Noah’s Ark and Shelly’s, all in Teaneck. While the RCBC certifies a majority of the kosher restaurants in the area, it respects the decisions of restaurants to seek out other certifications, according to its president, Rabbi Larry Rothwachs.

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    11 COMMENTS

    1. No. 2 It is totally inappropriate to denigrate Rabbi Menachem Genack, he is respected the world over for the Kahrus he supervises at the OU; further he is an accomplished Rov in his community.
      For the record I am not associated with him in any shape or form; my Shitos are general to his right on the Orthodox spectrum, but his honor needed to be upheld.

    2. it would seem taht the RCBC knows something that would make the kashrus of Imas suspect, but has not shared that in sufficient detail with anyone to have credibility in its claims. they also have not removed the ok from the list of acceptable certifications for Bergen County, but has not explained why the kashrus deficiency the ok is, in the view of the RCBC, overlooking at Imas, not also an issue at any other establishment certified by the ok.

      this leaves the BC community confused. So while I am certain that the RCBC rabbonim are acting ethically and in the interests of tghe community and torah observance, they need to be more forthcoming — or more consistent in its treatment of the ok — in this situation to have its decision regarding Imas be credible.

    3. I really am fed up with the kashrut nonsense that goes on. I have family and friends who are mashgichim. they are terribly learned. With semicha from great yeshivot. I was always annoyed by people who say for instance, ABCD is not reliable. And then when questioned about what isn’t reliable about it they have no answer. Just “its not reliable” and they walk off. They have no idea. I have no idea. All that perpetuates is the rumor that its not a good hechsher. It happens with the kashrut org’s and the single rabbinical hechsherim. Additionally, I am sure you all see the glaring announcements by kashrut org’s [ABCD IS NO LONGER UNDER XYZ SUPERVISION!!!!!] as if to say that if you eat there you are literally putting cheese and pig liver sandwiches in your mouth. Is there a need for that or is the kashrut org trying to damage them? So suffice it to say I confronted one of my family members and asked couldn’t all of this be put to rest if someone just came out with a book that delineated exactly what are the kulas and chumras that each org has and let the people decide what they want to hold.

    4. This is what they told me in brief: Here is a great example. Shoprite brand cheese. It has a hechsher. Turns out, they use real rennet. How? Well the question of rennet isnt so simple. Seems that there is an opinion that states if a treif item is degraded till its not considered food, it loses its non-kosher status. Then you can reconstitute it and use it in a product and it won’t be treif. The rennet they use is powdered and degraded. So they use it in making cheese. Many rabbonim dont allow that kulah but these guys do. Ok, I said. thats a reasonable answer. So why cant a compilation be made of what kulahs and chumras are used and let people know and decide. I was told in the most sarcastic way that if it ever came to light who published such a book they would be railroaded out of town at the very least. if not actually tarred and feathered. Bottom line is, that its become a business. And maybe the rabbonim who are the actual mashgichim are wonderful and learned but their employers are big business. Just like wall street. I really wish we could go back to the day where community rabbonim took on the responsibility of certifying their local eateries. the whole thing stinks.

    5. I guess The administration of the OK was unaware of their article in their own Magazine in their Chanuka Edition written by Rabbi Chaim Fogelman an Editor-in- Chief for the OK magzine. he wrote it while sitting 34,000 feet above sea level. returning from Johanesburg, South Africa.
      following is just a part of his Article;
      Johanesburg, S has just One certifying agency, that sets standards for the whole community.—– goes on writing about the beauty of one local Hashgocho with their set standards, and how such a policy should not be considered a Monopoly,—
      “In reality,here in the U.S.and in Europe, every time a company fails to comply with a kashrus protocol from an individua lKashrus agency there is always a second-rate agency waiting to give them a hechsher”.—–
      Isn’t that amazing ?

    6. As a Teaneck shopper I can attest wehther or not the OK did make the propper effort to meet with the local RCBC they would have gone ahead anyway as they have done so in nomourus local communities, ignoring any true facts.
      I read the OK comments in the article of the Jewish Standard following are some of my questions.
      A) Why would Rabbonim who devote of their precious time with no pay to serve the Kashrus of a community have to go to the OK Brooklyn Office to meet ? If a company applies to the OK for Hashgocho wouldnt the OK pay their Rabbonim to go down to meet with the potential Customer regardless how far they have to drive or Fly?
      B) If you have ever been to the Kosher Fest, Do you really believe that it is the place to organize a meeting of such ?

    7. And Rabbi Levy is still certifying what a Chutzpah
      How much did Rabbi Saltzman served the community over all of his years in Bergen County compare to Rabbis Rothwachs /Pruzansky/Baum/ Goldin/ or Yudin.
      88% of Bergen County never even heard of this Rabbi Saltzman.
      I guess to answer my question i have One answer
      Only if you believe in Lubavitch you are part of KLAL YISROEL.

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