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.