Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hechsher Tzedek--whats in a name?

Over the course of the past 6 months, since the announcement that the Conservative movement would seriously address issues of the workplace in the Kashrut industry, Hechser Tzedek has become a serious issue inside the Jewish community. It is exciting to realize that there is a deeply held feeling inside the Jewish community, across denominational lines, for insuring that the ethical treatment of those producing our kosher food is present. As a community we should be proud that Jews across the country have responded to this call and have great expectations that the Conservative movement will lead the way in demonstrating that there can be no overlooking mitzvot bein adam lhavero in our pursuit of mitzvot ben adam lmakom. That being said, one issue keeps coming back. Are we wise to call this a "HECHSHER"? Does the use of a word traditionally associated with simply describing whether a product fits the "ritual" requirement of kashrut complicate our case by creating ambiguity as it relates to a products status? Many people, while not opposing our goal have encouraged us to use a different word to describe our cause--such as "Hotem TZEDEK" ( Righteous Seal) or Siman TZEDEK( righteous marking or sign). On the other hand, many people have remarked to me that the power of this campaign is that it clearly goes to the heart of the issue by demonstrating the seriousness of our issue by use of the word Hechser. Our committee is currently engaged in addressing this issue, it is always important to hear from you. I look forward to your thoughts.