Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Uh oh.....

We have been excitedly advertising that on Shavuot when it is customary to eat dairy things, we would be ordering cheesecakes from Junior's, the famous cheesecake maker here in Brooklyn. Granted, no one ate cheesecake while wandering between Egypt and the promised land in the dessert...er...desert, but is has become a custom that while one studies Torah the night before Shavuot (as we will be doing), one eats diary cuisine. And any Jew who at the same time wants to appreciate the splendor of God's world would surely gravitate towards cheesecake. And good cheesecake, if one can. P'shita.

Eating dairy emphasizes that Torah is like the milk that keeps infants alive. It also has been suggested that the reason we do this is that before the Torah was given there was no way of knowing the laws of eating meat. Therefore, we eat dairy to commemorate the ancient Israelite's punctiliousness to Jewish law.

Junior's is well known to have some of the greatest cheesecake around, and while their restaurant is not kosher, their mail order cheesecakes have fallen under the hashkacha of the Orthodox Union-- OU. However, see below, and wait to see how this plays out.... (the drama):

The Brooklyn Paper
April 21, 2007

Something not so kosher going on at Junior’s.

The legendary cheesecake purveyor has lost the coveted Orthodox Union seal of approval after a Junior’s foreman baked up a batch of delicious, creamy cheesecakes during the Passover holiday.

Jews are not supposed to work — or have their workers work — on religious holidays as well as the Jewish sabbath, which runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

“The whole thing was a mistake,” Junior’s co-owner Alan Rosen told The Brooklyn Paper. “One of our customers ran out of cheesecake, so our shop foreman made some. I didn’t know about it at the time, and it’s a violation. We know we’re not supposed to bake during Passover, but what can I say?”

A spokesman for the Orthodox Union, one of the nation’s leading kosher-certifying organizations, declined to explain why its rabbis pulled the Junior’s certification, which was announced though an e-mail that gets sent to thousands of kosher followers nationwide.

“Effective April 1st, 2007,” the understated e-mail said, Junior’s cheesecakes “are no longer certified by the Orthodox Union and will no longer bear the OU symbol.”

Rosen promised that Junior’s would regain its kosher certification within days, albeit from “another group” that issues such declarations. The kosher controversy affects only Junior’s mail-order business — the restaurant itself, of course, is not kosher — and Rosen said he had enough cakes on hand to last a few days.

While Rosen downplayed the loss of kosher certification, the Talmudic minds of other experts weren’t so sure.

“I think this is a big deal,” said Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights. “If you’re a kosher customer of his, you’ll think twice.”

Raskin, of course, is kosher — but he never went near a Junior’s cheesecake, even when it had the OU seal.

He answers, as they say, to a higher authority.

“Even though they were kosher, they didn’t use what we call ‘Jewish milk,’” Raskin said. “To be the highest level of kosher, the milk has to be followed all the way from the cow’s udder to the cake. That’s ‘cholov y’israel.’”

In other words, oy vey.

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