3/16/10

Is Streit's Matzo Kosher for Passover?

Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik used to give the kosher approval to Streit's Matzos. He was the younger brother of my revered teacher Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Aaron died in 2001. In recent years other matza companies have raised questions about the kashrus of Streit's matzos. Not nice.

Streit's is not taking this lying down. Here is an ad we saw online, it may be a picture of Rabbi Soloveitchik, we are not sure, and it makes the claim that the matzo is, "Still the same after all these years."

We don't think this is the best slogan we've ever seen. We prefer fresh matzos on Passover. But we get it. In religion it's not the label "New" on the package that sells. It's the label "Old Original Never Changed" that carries the day.

Anyway, yes, Streit's Matzo is still Kosher for Passover.

3 comments:

Theophrastus said...

I think your blog post is misleading in several ways. I don't know anything about the claim "In recent years other matza companies have raised questions about the kashrus of Streit's matzos", but I hope you have support for it, because it is not nice to besmirch "other matza companies" either.

What I do know is this:

In April 2009, The Jewish Star publish published an article that claimed:

(1) "Less than a month before Pesach, the Vaad HaRabbonim of Queens decided to remove Streit’s Matzo and matzo products from its list of approved products. The Vaad HaKashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway immediately followed suit."

(2) "For several years after Rabbi Soloveichik took over the hashgacha from his late father, he shared the responsibility with the Kof-K, a nationally recognized kosher supervision agency."

(3) "The relationship ended amicably, according to both parties, after the company made a business decision to have just one hashgacha. For the past three years Rabbi Soloveichik has worked alone, with a team of five mashgichim (kosher supervisors)."

(4) "'Its very important that you understand that the question is not whether one trusts the Streit’s company,' said Rabbi Daniel Senter, the kashrus administrator of the Kof-K. '[They] are very honorable people. The question is . . . do they feel comfortable with an individual rabbi supervising something of this scale.'"

In June, The Jewish Star published a follow-up article which claimed:

(1) "The Kof-K logo will make an encore appearance on the Streit’s Matzo for Passover 2010, alongside the Soloveichik kashrus seal that has been on Streit’s products since the 1950s."

(2) "The change is a result of the ban on Streit’s matzo products enacted by the Vaad HaRabonim of Queens and the Vaad HaKashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway just before last Pesach."

Now, in fairness, there were hints in this second article of a darker subtext:

(3) "As for working with the Kof-K again, Rabbi Soloveichik said, 'I've worked with them before and we worked well together . . . I guess [Streit's] feel it's a form of protection to have a national hashgacha from people who would say all kinds of things without having a real basis for it.'"

(4) "For Streit’s the addition of the Kof-K is purely a business decision, as it was to remove it after the 2006 baking season. 'I have spoken to [the two vaads] and I'm still not sure why they did what they did,' said Alan Adler, one of the cousins who operate the company founded by his great-grandfather, Aron Streit. 'I asked, "Is there any way to get Streit's into the stores without a national hashgacha," and they only responded, "If you have a national hashgacha the problem will go away."' Adler said the added expense would not cause the price of matzo to go up. The company estimates the ban last Pesach, which Adler called 'an ambush,' had cost Streit's about $200,000 in lost orders."

I think it is a legitimate decision to say that we trust one hashgacha but not another, and to make that decision based on the manpower devoted to oversight (especially in automated matzo production). I do find it surprising that the decision of the vaadim came so late, but the bottom line is that (according to the above articles) this year is different from last year -- Streit's has a national hashgacha.

tzvee said...

yay for the good guys. thanks for the details and we stand uncorrected.

Ben said...

the Rabbi in the picture is not Rav Ahron Soloveichik. I'm not sure who it is.