Newark, NJ – The chief rabbi of a kosher food giant has filed a lawsuit just days before Pesach charging that the company’s kashrus standards have been slipping over the years and accusing the agency that certifies the products as kosher with ignoring the problem.
Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, a long time mashgiach at the Orthodox Union and Manischewitz’s official rabbi for 20 years, said that he was roundly criticized and forced out of his job after after speaking out about issues that he felt were halachically problematic.
According to The NY Daily News, Rabbi Horowitz said that trouble began brewing as far back as 2009 when Manischewitz allegedly started to become more lax in its kashrus standards. In the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, Rabbi Horowitz charged the Orthodox Union with ignoring his concerns in order to make sure that they didn’t lose a large account.
A New York Post report said that Rabbi Horowitz took an extended medical leave from his position at the Orthodox Union saying that the kashrus agency made it impossible for him to do his job. According to the complaint, Rabbi Horowitz was told to “do everything in his power to keep Manischewitz happy, even if this meant compromising his personal religious principles.”
Just one year ago, Rabbi Horowitz sang Manischewitz’s praises in an exclusive 2015 VIN News video interview where he described Manischewitz’s matza plant in Newark, New Jersey as the “most efficient and halachically advanced line in the world.”
The Orthodox Union denied Rabbi Horowitz’s claims, calling the timing suspicious and categorizing the suit as baseless.
“We certify that the kashrut of Manischewitz is today, and has always been, at the highest level,” said a statement released by the Orthodox Union. “Consumers can confidently rely upon the integrity of the kashrut this Passover and throughout the year.”