KS: Where did you grow up? Where did you go to yeshiva?
RAR: I was born in Liverpool, England, and grew up in the Geula neighborhood in Yerushalayim. I went to the Knesset Hizkiyahu Yeshiva and later to Ateret Yisrael.

KS: What did you do after yeshiva?
RAR:I got married and then learned in kollel for a few years, and then went on to work as a tutor and mentor in Netiva HaTorah Yeshiva. Later I became a maggid shiur in Lev Arye yeshiva in Jerusalem.

KS: What is your current position at the OK?
RAR: I head the OK India department and I am also in charge of new accounts for OK Israel.

KS: What prepared you the most for your current position at the OK?
RAR: Since my marriage, even while working in other fields, I worked from time to time as a mashgiach for various Israeli kosher agencies. Of course, I started by supervising simple productions, which didn’t require much experience. With time, I learned a lot, accumulated experience, and started dealing with more complex projects. Later, I started going to visit production sites abroad. When I began working for the OK I was already an experienced mashgiach, with good knowledge of the kosher food industry.

KS: What is best thing about working at the OK?
RAR: The OK is an organization that teaches you every day that size doesn’t have to come at the expense of quality. Rabbi Levy keeps our standards high; we always marvel at how easy it is for him to give up a project or a plant because they can’t quite measure up to his kosher expectations. His committed leadership, his vast experience, and, of course, his siyata d’shmaya, makes the OK such a respected kashrus agency.

The best thing about working in the Israeli office is working under Rabbi Aharon Haskel, who somehow manages to let the rabbinic coordinators run their departments independently, while still staying involved and aware of every detail. He is like the angel who commands the plant to grow, and we constantly take advantage of the way he makes himself and his knowledge available to us when we need advice and guidance.

KS: How would you describe the OK today?
RAR: The OK is probably the most technologically advanced kosher agency in the world, something that affects both the kashrus level and the customer service level. We are definitely the biggest mehadrin kosher agency in the world, and we are here so more Jews will have access to more food which is strictly kosher.

KS: Can you share an interesting experience that you had while working at the OK?
RAR: One of the hardest things to explain to factories is the issue of “blia’a bekelim” – why equipment might be non-kosher even after cleaning. When I first came to India, one of the factories invited me for lunch with the senior staff and the owners. I started explaining that unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to eat the food served, but I would be happy to sit down with them and eat my own food. The owner couldn’t agree; he told me that they belong to a religion which demands a vegetarian diet, so actually all the food is kosher. I explained that “kosher” is a more complex description than “vegetarian”. I offered him a piece of a cake I brought along and he refused outright, explaining that he must not eat things without being certain about the ingredients. Of course that was all I needed to explain that it is best if everyone keeps to their own food…

We had a very interesting conversation over that meal, and it turned out that their religion also has a “blia’a bekelim” prohibition – a dish in which meat was cooked, for example, is forbidden for use – forever. Since then, I use this story often when visiting plants in India, and I find it very effective in clarifying this kosher issue.

What Other People Say About Rabbi Avraham Rapoport

“Combining the energy of youth and the meticulousness of a well-seasoned Rabbinic Coordinator, Avi, as he is fondly called, excels in his endeavors to literally bring kashrus worldwide. His enthusiasm and Ahavas Yisroel give away his Chabad ancestry. Rabbi Rapoport works exactly according to OK guidelines, which ensures his success in his quest to spread kashrus. We are fortunate to have Avi with us as the OK and it would not be the same without him.”
Rabbi Don Yoel Levy , Kashrus Administrator

“Rabbi Rapoport is a rare combination of a talmid chacham, an exemplary mentsch, and a highly intelligent professional with profound knowledge of the food industry. We are very proud to have a man of his level at the OK. His dedication to kosher work is absolute: he works closely with people in very different time zones – India and the US for instance – so for him this is really a 24/6 job. I always get enthusiastic feedback about Rabbi Rapoport – not only from our clients but even from other kosher agencies, which hold him in a very high esteem.”
Rabbi Aharon Haskel, Director of OK Israel