Letters – Summer 2023

OU Kosher’s Centennial Issue

Thank you for the excellent review of the history of kashrus supervision (“Celebrating 100 Years of OU Kosher,” winter 2022). The level of research involved in addressing the social, economic and religious factors that contributed to the story was impressive. The introduction was followed by a wide-ranging survey of the individuals responsible for establishing and safeguarding the kashrus of our foods. Current and potentially future agricultural and technological developments in the production of food were explored as well.

Taken together, I felt as if I had completed a high-level course that significantly increased my appreciation for the availability of the wide spectrum of kosher products and for the individuals who helped bring this about.

Sheila Willig 

Lakewood, New Jersey


In Rabbi Menachem Genack’s exceptional article depicting the rare genius and personality of Rabbi Nota Greenblatt [“Legends in the Kosher World,” winter 2022], there are aspects of this unbelievable Torah personality that I would like to note.

Although I knew Rav Nota from my days in Ner Yisroel, which he visited occasionally because he had two sons studying there, I became much better acquainted with him when I was a neophyte rav in Buffalo, New York. At the time, he was overseeing all domestic wine production on behalf of the OU; western New York is a rich grape-growing area with innumerable wineries. [As noted in Rabbi Genack’s article, Rav Nota was an expert in gittin (writs of divorce) and administered thousands of gittin.]

When I served as rav in Buffalo, I approached Rav Nota to be mesader gittin when he visited the area. His response, which he told me in his inimitable way, was: “Rabbi Kaganoff, when you have two gittin ready, call me and I will work you into my schedule.” [Rav Nota was based in Memphis, Tennessee, but he would travel around the world—often at his own expense—to obtain a get for a woman in need.] When he would call and I would speak to him in third person as “the rav,” as was only appropriate for a world-class posek who was thirty years my senior, he would respond, “There are two rabbanim on this telephone call.”

Rav Nota told me what to charge for the gittin—not one penny more than what the local Conservative rabbi charged. I knew that two gittin at that rate did not cover Rav Nota’s airfare, to say nothing of his time and professional skill, but that made no difference to him. And he collected the money for the gittin himself, to save me from any embarrassing situation.

Rav Nota was incredibly humble, and at the same time, he had tremendous self-confidence that he spread to others. In other words, he would ask me why I was bringing him to Buffalo to be mesader gittin when he felt that I should be taking care of them myself. Yet, he continued to come every time I called him.

Rav Nota had an interesting way of giving tochachah (reproof) and showing disapproval. I once mentioned to him that I had received permission to visit a “kosher” winery of less-than-stellar reputation. Later, Rav Nota asked me what I saw, and I told him about several shortcomings I had witnessed. He then asked me whether I had raised these concerns with the supervising rabbi. I had not. Rav Nota told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was responsible to call the rabbi and note to him what I had seen that was subpar.

On his next visit to Buffalo, Rav Nota asked me what the rabbi had replied. I told him that I had been remiss in calling. To this, Rav Nota replied: “You have a responsibility to tell him that there is a problem. Whether he does anything about it is his issue, but that does not take away from your responsibility.”

In one case, a woman, married in an Orthodox ceremony, had remarried (without obtaining a get) and borne a child from the second marriage—a serious question of mamzeirus. When I shared with Rav Nota a halachic approach that perhaps might save this child from being a mamzer, he did not answer. This was his way of demonstrating that he felt the approach was not halachically correct. A while later, he said to me, “The next generation’s Rav Moshe will need to answer this she’eilah.

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

Jerusalem, Israel


A recent Jewish Action issue included a superb essay entitled “OU Kosher: The Inside Story.” Rabbi Menachem Genack’s historical insights are cogent, particularly the differences in the kosher consumer of yesterday compared to today.

I lived with my grandparents growing up.  I still remember my grandmother kashering meat in the kitchen.

We have, under Rabbi Menachem Genack’s inspired leadership, made great strides over the decades. The OU and Jewish Action provide tremendous leadership to the observant Jewish community.

Dr. Steven Huberman

Founding dean emeritus and professor of social work administration

Touro University Graduate School of Social Work

New York, New York



Navigating Widowhood

I’ve been enjoying the informative articles in the spring 2023 issue and appreciate your coverage about widows and widowers (“Navigating Widowhood in the Frum Community,” by Merri Ukraincik) and others in the frum community who unfortunately go off the community’s radar. We need to remember everyone in our community. Yasher koach to Jewish Action for highlighting this. Keep up the good work!

Rachel Steinerman

Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania


I cannot fully express my loneliness after losing my husband, my best friend. I have not been to shul since he passed away months ago. None of those who davened with my husband reached out to me. I feel I have no place. I went away for Purim and came back to an empty house. No one left mishloach manot at my door.

Rabbis should be calling the almanos of their shuls on a regular basis to ask how they and their families are. We all need chizuk, and we need to know that people care.

A widow


Merri Ukraincik’s article about widows and widowers in the frum community was great. The interviews were eye-openers. I had thought of myself as a hard person, but now I realize that it was just a way to cope with what is, at times, a lonely way of life.

Miriam Ravitz
Edison, New Jersey


This article was featured in the Summer 2023 issue of Jewish Action.
We'd like to hear what you think about this article. Post a comment or email us at ja@ou.org.