Monday, 14 January 2013

Orthodox Union, world’s largest kosher certifier, in disarray

The leadership of world's largest provider of kosher certification is in disarray.

Sources on Monday confirmed massive infighting among the leadership of the Orthodox Union and a slew of managerial changes as members of the board of directors vie for control.

Harvey Blitz, the chairman of the organization's kashrut commission, is reportedly challenging Simcha Katz for the presidency of the group. Meanwhile, the group's executive vice president, Rabbi Steven Weil, has retained his title and an office at headquarters despite being stripped of any executive responsibility.

Rabbi Steven Burg, the former head of the O.U.'s youth group, NCSY, had been made temporary caretaker of the group last year, but has recently departed.

Michael Cohen, the former New York state political director hired less than a year ago, has also left abruptly.

With its logo appearing on more than 500,000 consumer products, the O.U. is the largest kosher supervision agency in the world. The total revenue from that operation -- a closely guarded institutional secret -- is used to fund an array of religious services and communal operations, including a public affairs office in Washington, a publishing house, and a congregational umbrella group for synagogues.

"There are a few insiders controlling [the OU] because they know if they let someone else know what was happening the party would be over," said a source familiar with the details.

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