Thornton Distilling—an OU-certified spirits distillery located in a small Chicago suburb— began producing batches of hand sanitizer for community first responders when it became elusive at the height of the pandemic. Police officers popped in for some. Firefighters followed, then paramedics from the first aid squad, and when word got out, staff from the local ER.
The distillery was soon unable to keep up with demand. It had sources for the alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. But when hand sanitizer’s third primary ingredient, glycerin, still proved hard to come by, Thornton’s manager reached out to OU Kosher Senior RFR Rabbi Simcha Smolensky for help in acquiring it.
Rabbi Smolensky contacted Vantage Oleo Chemicals, an OU-certified company that produces glycerin in Chicago. Because the brand manager’s brother is a police officer and her sister is a nurse, the cause resonated. She arranged for Vantage to donate 300 gallons to the effort, and the OU assisted in having it transferred to the distillery. This shidduch made it possible for Thornton to produce ample hand sanitizer for local first responders at a time of critical need.
For Dallas-based RFR Rabbi Yisroel Blitz, the ability to access and analyze data has transformed how he inspects a major baking goods supplier he has visited for years. He used to examine only a few basic rows within the plant’s six-story refrigerator. On virtual inspections, he has access to the breadth of the refrigerator’s inventory control system that maps the contents of each bay. It has been a gamechanger, enabling him to spot check any product from any location within the refrigerator by name.
“JFK Airport was a ghost town the first time I flew after factories began to reopen. It really hit me then that we were stuck in a pandemic,” recalls RC Rabbi Mordechai Stareshefsky. “I’d just recovered from Covid and felt ready to head back out there to get kashrus done. But no one was asked to travel if he felt uncomfortable.”