KS: Where did you grow up? Where did you go to yeshiva?
RKW: I grew up in Jerusalem and learned in Talmud Torah HaMesorah under Rabbi Krashinsky and then in Yeshivas Toras Emes Chabad. After completing yeshiva, I moved to Crown Heights where I studied for three years for semicha at Lubavitch Headquarters.
KS:What did you do after yeshiva?
RKW: After receiving semicha, I did a combination of shlichus and IDF service for four years. For the first year, I served in a meteorologist base and for the next three years I was in charge of kashrus at an air force base serving over 2,000 soldiers, three times per day.
KS:What is your current position at the OK?
RKW: My current position is Food Service Rabbinic Coordinator. I oversee the kashrus of all OK certified restaurants and catering establishments.
KS:What prepared you the most for your current position at the OK?
RKW: My kashrus work in the IDF, years of training by the OK, and my parents’ teachings about the essential importance of the kashrus of the food that keeps us alive, combined to prepare me for my current position.
KS: What is the best thing about working at the OK?
RKW: My favorite thing about working at the OK is the aspect of shlichus. I work in the field and constantly meet people who I have the opportunity to influence in Torahand mitzvos.
KS: How would you describe the OK today?
RKW: I would describe the OK as being both very big and very small at the same time. The OK has seen tremendous growth and is involved in kashrus worldwide. At the same time, the OK is run as if it was a smaller agency with a family atmosphere because Rabbi Levy makes sure to be involved with every employee and every company certified by the OK.
KS: Can you share an interesting experience that you had while working at the OK?
RKW: A few weeks ago I finished visiting restaurants in Manhattan. I usually travel by train and on the way to the train station I saw a person sitting on the street near a non-kosher restaurant with a sign saying, “Please help me. I am homeless.”
I gave him a quarter and noticed that he looked young so I asked him, “You look young, why are you on the street?” He told me that his wife passed away from pregnancy complications and he got so depressed that he did not go to work and got fired and subsequently lost his home. He had been living on the street for the past eleven months and all of his possessions were in a storage locker in New Jersey. I asked him why he did not look for a job and he replied that nobody wanted to hire a homeless person. His mother only had a one bedroom apartment and did not have anywhere for him to stay. A woman listening to the story went into the coffee shop and bought him a $50 gift card so he could buy food. I continued to talk to him and try to encourage him to look for a job.
Then, a young man tapped me on the shoulder and spoke in Hebrew asking if he could talk to me. He told me that he had been listening to the conversation for the past fifteen minutes and asked me if I was sure the homeless man was not Jewish. I replied that I was sure. The young man then told me that he was from a Chareidi family and went off the derech two years ago. His parents never threw him out, but his community ostracized him. The father of one of his friends sat shiva for his son and six months later the father passed away. The friend did not want to sit shiva but the young man convinced him saying that his father sat shiva for him, so he should sit for his father.
This young man was on his way into the non-kosher restaurant when he saw me, a frum man with a beard, talking to the homeless non-Jew. The young man could not believe that I would spend so much time with the homeless man. Then and there he decided not to go to the non-kosher restaurant and asked me to direct him to a kosher restaurant. I went with him and sat down to eat with him. I spoke to the restaurant owner and the owner offered the young man a job, which I told him was a sign that Hashem wants him back and that he should continue eating kosher food. This is the way I was taught by my parents and grandmother, Omama, and I am proud to continue in their path.
What Other People Say About About Rabbi Sholom Ber Hendel
“The OK restaurants are known for adhering to the highest standard of kashrus. We require a mashgiach temidi and are very particular about the products we bring in. Leafy vegetables and all produce are carefully checked. In order to enforce these standards we need a special person. Just being strict and a stickler for details is not enough. We need a yorei shamayim who is meurav bein habrios.
Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld combines these two traits together with his vast knowledge and experience to make him one of the recognized and foremost experts in food service kashrus today.
After the recent AKO Vaad (Association of Kashrus Organizations) meeting, where Rabbi Weinfeld gave a lecture, I heard only compliments from the heads of of the largest certifying agencies about Rabbi Weinfeld.”
— Rabbi Don Yoel Levy , Kashrus Administrator
“I learned from my mentors that a good mashgiach is someone who can be described as: משגיח מן החלונות מציץ מן החרכים– “he watches through the windows AND peers through the cracks” (Shlomo HaMelech, Shir HaShirim 2:9). Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld exemplifies both of these attributes. He is a well-recognized kashrus expert in the area of Food Service who retains the highest levels of kashrus possible. Nonetheless, his kashrus expertise is packaged within a warm personality and exceptional common sense (the fifth section of the Shulchan Oruch), making him an absolutely successful Food Service Rabbinic Coordinator respected by kashrus professionals, his staff and clients.”
— Rabbi Eli Lando, Chief Customer Relations Officer
“A professional in kashrus is one who knows the goal; but more than that, one who knows the correct way to achieve that goal, with respect and dignity. To get from A to B one can drive on the road, or, one can also drive on the sidewalk, but will then inevitably knock down pedestrians.
Rabbi Kalman Weinfield has learned (and teaches) the correct way to navigate and reach the desired standards of kashrus.”
— HaRav Usher Anshel Eckstein shlit”a , Belzer Dayan