That there’s a question this close to Passover might be alarming, but a controversy in Queens and parts of Long Island has called the certification of the Streit’s plant into question, as reported by The Jewish Star.
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. The result was that days before Passover the makers of Streit’s Matzo felt ambushed, Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik was embarrassed publicly and many kosher consumers are confused: is the stuff kosher for Pesach, or not?
Everyone seems to agree that it is.
But local Va’ads, the agencies responsible for local kosher practices and certifications, were worried that Rabbi Soloveichik did not keep up the quality that his father, who had built a reputation for his hashgacha, or inspection practices.
“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.”
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. 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).
The problem with Streit’s lack of a national hashgacha is that “we don’t know enough about Rav Moshe Soloveichik,” Rabbi [Yoel] Schonfeld, [co-president of the Vaad HaRabonim of Queens] claimed. “He just doesn’t swim in the kashrus world … we’re not saying he’s bad; not at all. We just don’t know.”
Alan Adler, director of operations at Streit’s, called the questioning of the kashering practices at the matzoh plant just weeks before Passover “an ambush.” He would have liked to have seen recommendations and inspections take place in the fall, when there was time to address any concerns.
So where does that leave us? If you’ve got Streit’s matzoh and you’re worried about whether it’s safe to put on your seder table, don’t be. The rabbis involved agree it’s kosher for Passover, they just want to see more of a national hashgacha presence in the future.