OK Conference Celebrates and Captivates
11/24/03 - Much magic and meaning at OK's 5th annual conference
On Monday, November 24th, the OK Kosher Certification held its 5th annual Mashgichim Conference, a profound and meaningful gathering of over 120 OK kosher supervision representatives from around the world. Guests from countries as far flung as Switzerland, Thailand, and Japan, joined in the event held at a conference center near the OK’s Brooklyn headquarters.
Event coordinator, Rabbi Chaim Fogelman, opened the event by announcing that in the past year, the OK had logged over 14,500 visits to manufacturing facilities, and brought over 15,000 new kosher products into the market. He formally announced the recent launch of the OK’s new web based Kashrus computer program, which enables OK staff to log on from anywhere in the world, and have almost instantaneous access to all the data on the system. As well, he noted how the OK’s new publication, Kosher Spirit, has managed to win the hearts and imaginations of readers throughout the US. In fact, it has now one of the largest Jewish readerships.
Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, esteemed Kashrus Administrator of the OK Kosher Certification, and the world’s foremost expert on contemporary kashrus issues, formally opened the event with words of Torah, pointing out how the OK’s steadfast commitment to Torah serves as a great unifier, successfully merging the diverse group of personalities that make up the OK, into an unparalleled force in pursuit of a singular cause… the raising of kosher standards to unprecedented heights.
The conference welcomed key representatives from OK certified companies to speak of their experiences and interactions with the OK. Mr. Tom Courtney of IFF (International Flavors and Fragrances), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of flavors and fragrances, spoke of the taxing performance demands IFF faces in today’s “made to order” production environment, as he applauded the OK for rising to the challenges inherent in this rigorous production pace. Mr. Lenny Model of Oceanside Knish Factory, speaking of the OK’s interactions with small businesses, had no shortage of praise for the OK, as he credited the agency and its representatives with, among other things, bringing him back to his Jewish roots. “The fact that you teach first, and you set up a program, and you follow the program diligently,” Mr. Model emphasized, “demonstrates to those who have the will and the want… the practical way!”
From the large pool of dedicated and respected OK kosher experts, two, Rabbi Binyomin Fajnland of California and Rabbi Hillel Baron of Maryland, were singled out for special recognition. In their years of service to the OK and the kosher community at large, Rabbis Fajnland and Baron have logged 3,752 and 2,200 hours of supervision hours respectively. In accepting his award, Rabbi Fajnland spoke of the OK’s unique approach to raising the standards of kosher worldwide. “The OK does not raise itself by putting others down,” Rabbi Fajnland explained, “rather; we blaze a path of heightened standards, which often leads others to follow!”
Other speakers at the conference included Mr. Feivel Muller, OK Kosher Certification’s new star Operations Consultant, who, in addressing the topic of time management, charmed the audience with his warmth, wisdom, and clearheaded guidance, which has been an invaluable asset to the OK as it moves into the future. Flown in especially from Israel, was Rabbi Meir David Bergman, foremost expert on laws pertaining to agriculture and produce in Israel, who engaged the audience with fascinating accounts of contemporary Halachic issues in his field.
A touching moment at the event came early in the day, when Rabbi Yaakov Shwei, Rav of Crown Heights, made a surprise appearance at the conference, and took a moment to bless the OK in general, and its celebrated leader Rabbi Don Yoel Levy in particular, for the boundless good work the OK performs on behalf of the Jewish world at large, and the Crown Heights community in particular.
All participants at the 5th annual OK Mashgichim Conference were presented with a beautiful travel bag equipped with a thermos, emblazoned with the OK logo as well as Tefilas Haderech (the prayer for the traveler), as a memento from the conference. This gift should help keep the dedicated team of OK kosher supervisors warm and safe in all of their exciting kosher exploits!