KS: Where did you grow up? Where did you go to yeshiva?
RYG: I grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. For yeshiva, I attended Yeshiva Torah v’Daas in Flatbush; Beis Talmud, Bensonhurst; and, Mir Yerushalayim. I eventually received semicha from Beis Midrash Gevoha in Lakewood. The OK also sponsored my Bachelor of Science in Biology from Touro College and later a Master of Science degree in Food Science from Rutgers University.
KS: What did you do after yeshiva?
RYG: After yeshiva, I started working as a mashgiach at different hashgocha agencies such as the Orthodox Union, the Star-K, and the Vaad of Queens.
KS: What is your current position at the OK?
RYG: I currently head the Formula Review and Ingredient Submittal Department. I am also the Rabbinic Coordinator for Food Service, Restaurants & Caterers.
KS: What prepared you the most for your current position at the OK?
RYG: My varied experiences in hashgocha and my academic degrees prepared me for my current work at the OK.
KS: What is best thing about working at the OK?
RYG: The best thing is working with great people who are conscientious of the importance of kashrus. I feel privileged to work with the other OK rabbis. Kashrus is a never-ending learning experience, and I am able to call on the experience of my colleagues for continual insight into a variety of kashrus matters.
KS: How would you describe the OK today?
RYG: The OK is a pioneer, a visionary in kashrus and is sensitive to the needs of all who work on its behalf. Each Rabbinic Coordinator has had previous field experience. This is very beneficial when it comes to dealing with kashrus problems. It also helps us to establish better relationships with the mashgichim in the field. Once you have been in someone’s position, you relate with more sensitivity.
KS: Can you share an interesting experience that you had while working at the OK?
RYG: During one of my visits to Japan, I found myself stranded at the airport due to a snowstorm. Determined to conduct my inspection, I inquired how to travel by train. A ticket agent gave me directions and called the facility (he spoke much better Japanese than me) to ensure someone would pick me up at the train station. After hours of traveling, I found myself alone in a small village just as it was getting dark. Apparently there was some type of miscommunication between the ticket agent and the facility, because no one was there to meet me. Passersby were of no assistance due to the language barrier. I trudged through the snow in the dark with my luggage for what felt like forever. Finally, I came across a building that had a flashing emergency light attached — it was a first aid building. I went inside and found a boy who in broken English explained that I would never be able to reach my destination due to the weather. After a little coaxing, he offered to give me a ride to the facility in an ambulance. When I arrived at the facility, in an ambulance in the middle of a huge snowstorm I wish I would have taken some pictures of their shocked faces. Unfortunately my guide was no longer there, and there were no more English speakers working. With the interpreter’s help on the phone, I conducted my inspection. While it was difficult to ask questions and to read the labels printed in Japanese, I was able to successfully complete my inspection!
What Other People Say About Rabbi Yitzchak Gornish
Rabbi Gornish is a talmid chochom and master in Chemistry who is well-known for his spellbinding lectures. His broad knowledge contributes greatly to the kashrus world. With his vast experience in many areas and his youthful energy, Reb Yitzchak is one of the new generation of OK rabbis who ensures that the OK will always be the pioneers in kashrus.
Rabbi Don Yoel Levy,
Kashrus Administrator, OK Kosher Certification
When the Torah wants to describe the word of Hashem – the word of Emes, the Torah tells us to ignore the loud noises and pushy opinions. Rather, we should pay attention to the softer and steady voice. I believe this can describe my good friend, Reb Yitzchak. There are many voices in a conversation but his soft, steady thoughts and opinions are usually the prevailing voice of emes.
Rabbi Sholem Fishbane,
Kashrus Administrator – CRC-Chicago
Rabbi Gornish makes himself available day and night in order to ensure that our restaurants meet the kosher standards we set for them. His Master’s degree in Food Science allows him to approve restaurant ingredients in an incredibly efficient manner. Due to his background in hashgocha, he is able to understand the nature of restaurants and caterers, and is sensitive to all the details that go into certifying them.
Rabbi Naftali Marrus,
Rabbinic Coordinator – Restaurants & Catering