KS: Where did you grow up? Where did you go to yeshiva?
RYP: I was born in Eretz Yisroel in Kiryat Sanz, Netanya. The home of my wonderful parents שי’ לאיו”ט, was the best atmosphere for both physical and spiritual growth. When I was 7, shortly after my parents became his mechutonim, the Klausenburger Rebbe zt”l instructed our family to move to Tzfat, where he was determined to reestablish a kehilla and revive the Divrei Chaim’s Beis HaMedrash. I spent the rest of my childhood in Tzfat. I remember how as a boy I walked in the ancient streets thinking of the great tzaddikim, such as the Ari Hakadosh, the Beit Yosef, the Ramak and many other tzadikkim zt”l, who used to walk through the these streets. As a bochur, I travelled back to Yeshivat Sanz in Netanya, where I spent most of my best years studying and advancing in Torah and halichos chaim.
KS: What did you do after yeshiva?
RYP: At Perek Ha’Ish Me’kadesh I was married to my wife Esther ‘יחת from Brooklyn, NY and we lived near my wonderful in-laws. I then began halacha studies in Kolel Sanz in Boro Park. After my family grew I had to start working, and by a wonderful Hashgocha Protis I decided to improve my knowledge of electricity, concentrating on Industrial Heating/Cooling systems and engineering, and worked in this field for quite a few years.
KS: What is your current position at the OK?
RYP: I am currently the Rabbinic Coordinator of the China Department at OK Israel.
KS: What prepared you the most for your current position at the OK?
RYP: “MeHashem mitzadei gever konenu. The steps of man are ordered by Hashem.” (Psalms 37, 23) is the verse that comes to mind. The combination of my halacha studies and my engineering work was exactly what led me to work in the kashrus field, and later, to my current position. As anyone who knows something about how kosher works, inspecting facilities requires a great deal of halachic knowledge as well as a great deal of technical knowledge to understand the heating systems, steam systems, etc. I am fortunate to have such helpful background skills.
KS: What is best thing about working at the OK?
RYP: There are many possible answers to this question, all of them relate to the excellence of the system. I will mention the one point I consider most important and unique. The management has succeeded in making the organization one big “family”. There are no rivalries, and no personal interests. Just like it is in a good family environment, everybody working for the OK feels their colleagues’ desire for them to succeed and each person contributes their own knowledge and experience to help one another. A good example would be the head of the Israeli branch, Rabbi A. Haskel, who conducts his Rabbinic Coordinators with an extremely warm and kind attitude. The feeling of unity and the mutual goodwill is exactly what makes working for the OK such a great experience.
KS: How would you describe the OK today?
RYP: Our holy sages have taught us that “Hamefursamot e’inan tzrichot ra’ya. The well-known, requires no proof.” The OK has become an international kosher symbol, which caused a revolution in the Jewish world. This was done with responsibility, and without giving up any of our high standards. The OK feels responsible for every Jew – for example, our website contains so much relevant, timely information geared toward the consumer. Nonetheless, the OK doesn’t rest on its laurels; we keep certifying more and more products that meet all of the halacha demands, while simultaneously improving our standards on a daily basis.
KS: Can you share an interesting experience that you had while working at the OK?
RYP: A few years ago I received a phone call from one of our senior mashgichim, Rabbi Yaacov Perlov, who was in China at that time supervising a kosher production in Zhangzhou. The production was finished by Thursday afternoon and his plan was to fly to Beijing and stay there for Shabbos in the Jewish community. However, that day, as he was walking through the hotel’s lobby, he happened to come across a frum woman from Israel who was stunned to meet a frum Jew at such a distant place. She told him her husband was very sick and they were waiting for a transplant. They ran out of kosher food and all they had to eat was fruits and vegetables. Rabbi Perlov immediately rushed to his room and gave them all the food he had with him. Shortly after that, he called me and shared the story with me. By the time that he was telling me the whole story a bright new idea came up in his mind. No, he won’t spend his precious Shabbos in the Jewish Center. His new idea was to fly to Beijing, get a whole new fresh supply of food and fly back to spend Shabbos with this Jewish couple. I immediately began arranging the flights. However, I found out that there was merely 50 minutes between the flight to Beijing and the flight he would need to board in order to be back in Zhangzhou on time for Shabbos.
I called Rabbi Menachem Piekarski, a Chabad Shliach, who works under Rabbi Shimon Freundlich. Rabbi Piekarski arranged enough food for about two weeks, including freshly-backed challos, and waited for Rabbi Perlov at the airport with two big suitcases which he had already checked in for Rabbi Perlov. Rabbi Perlov got off the plane, took the boarding pass and rushed to board the plane again…
A few days later I called Rabbi Freundlich, wishing to pay for all the food he sent. His answer was: “When Rabbi Levy does a Gemilus Chesed, I want to be his partner! I don’t want any payment…”
What Other People Say About Rabbi Yeshaya Prizant
Determination, thoroughness and follow up are some of the traits that characterize Reb Shaya, as he is affectionately known to his friends. Over the years he has also built up a substantial network of acquaintances in the kashrus world. This helps him to be at the forefront of ensuring high kashrus standards in China today. I have personally witnessed some of his accomplishments when accompanying him on his visits in China.”
Rabbi Don Yoel Levy,
Kashrus Administrator, OK Kosher Certification
One of the greatest things about Rabbi Prizant is that along with the mastery of kosher halachos, he brings vast technical experience which is very helpful in his kosher work.
Rabbi Prizant doesn’t ‘come to work’. He is always at work. He is always connected, always thinking about his department and the accounts he is responsible for. He believes that our work as a kosher organization isn’t about ‘issuing certificates’. It’s about giving a quality service package to the client. He is definitely a perfectionist—he expects much from others but his highest expectations are from himself.”
Rabbi Ahron Haskel,
Executive Rabbinic Coordinator, OK Israe