Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Mini-Rant L'kovod Pesach Making

Every year the major kashrut organizations put out booklets that list which of their products are kosher for Pesach. Some also list such information on their web sites: many do not. Why isn't this information available online? Those communities that assur the Internet and using computers are also generally not communities that are looking to the OU and the Chaf K etc. for the hashgacha on their Pesach products. Why not accomodate those of us who do use the Internet?

Just when is it that the people who run most of these organizations think that people are going to start making Pesach? Two weeks before yom tov? The week before? Must be the case as two major publications--that of Rabbi Blumenkrantz (being published by his son now I would imagine) and that of the Chaf K are first coming available in our area this week for the Chaf K and next week, hopefully, for the Blumenkrantz book. The reason that these two publications are important is because they itemize medications and cosmetic and personal care items.

One excuse I got for the lateness of the books is that "it takes a while to get everything put in the works." Have these people ever heard of computers? Do they know how to use them to advantage? My daughter works for a major publishing house as a senior editor; she laughed when she heard this excuse. "Someone doesn't know what they are doing," was her answer.

Kudos go to the OU, which had its listing of Kosher for Passover products out two weeks ago. And a slap on the wrist to the OU for having produced a truly frustrating booklet this year. Categories overlap, some items are put under their manufacturer while others are not, and the booklet is nowhere near as useful as it was in past years. Again, with computers available there is truly no excuse for the disorganization. As my husband always says: "Computers don't make mistakes--people do." Someone goofed.

And here is the really strange part. The Pathmark supermarket chain always puts out a pamphlet or flyer, available at their customer service desk, of items carrying the Pathmark brand that are Kosher for Passover. That flyer was available weeks ago and has already gone to a second printing. That means that the companies giving the hashgochah already knew which brands were going to be kosher for Passover. So why aren't their booklets already available?

Stores are already packed with Passover items, if you only knew where to look. In one major supermarket chain the obvious kosher producer items are in a special Passover section. Their own brands with hashgocha for Pesach are in the individual sections where you would normally find them. Domino sugar with the OUP and their own brand with the OUP are in the sugar section. But without the booklets you don't even know to look for these items.

And here is another pet peeve. The OU booklet is free of charge. The Chaf K booklet is only sold in Jewish book stores. Yet another example of a kosher organization holding up consumers for Ransom before yom tov.

Here we are, all getting organized before Pesach, and our major kashrut organizations cannot seem to get their acts together. Maybe they need to consult some women about when the best time to have the booklets out would be.


Bas~Melech said...


I think what we have here is yet another case of oligopolists wrapping the consumers around their chubby little fingers. Supply and demand doesn't get any more basic than this:

The "haimish" producers of pesachdik food know that the majority of their customers will have to buy their products no matter what because there is no alternative (for those who don't use OU, and those who do use OU have a choice between poorly designed or late, according to your report here) unless they plan on making Pesach the old fashioned way (though I wouldn't put it past you to go kill your own meat if the occasion called for it...)
Therefore, there is no motivation to provide better service.

The situation is even clearer when it comes to things like schools, where demand actually exceeds supply. They know that we will only send our children to religious Jewish schools, and people are banging down the doors to get in. Have a problem or complaint? No problem -- find a better place, I'll fill your desk with two more meek lambs.

concernedjewgirl said...

Sorry to stray from the topic but your comment about the school system is a little overwhelming. Why don't we start our own Idea and send kids to Public schools. There are many communities that do this and the frum kids make up the majority of the school so the school adopts the Jewish holidays as their own because of the overwhelming absence rates during the holidays. Why not rally together and take over a few public schools in this matter?
Something to ponder I suppose.
I just don't see how someone paying over $10000 tuition per child cannot have a say in how good/bad/awful their child's education is.
Again maybe because I'm naive to the situation. Or maybe I'm onto something.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree about the OU book. Way too general this year and not set up to be easy to find things.

Bas~Melech said...

For starters, Concerned, very few are actually paying $10,000 tuition. You can bet that those who are have somewhat more say in the running of the institution, though not nearly as much as the big donors. And sometimes that's not a good thing -- you can have people in totally inappropriate situations because some well-meaning gvir asked for it.

(sorry for hijacking your blog, ProfK!)