To some it is an old story, hardly newsworthy. To others it is evidence of a world conspiracy suggesting “the Mark of the Beast.” For me, it’s something quite humorous. It’s called “The Kosher Tax.”
According to the Official 2010 Census, there are approximately 6.5-million people in the USA who describe themselves as being ethnically Jewish. That’s a whopping 2.1% of the population. Of these 6.5-million, less than half of one percent admit to being Orthodox, attend Temple or are otherwise religious. That’s a population about the size of Philadelphia.
The 1.5-million Jews that observe traditions of the Torah and Talmud adhere to strict dietary laws that prohibit certain food combinations, methods of slaughter and eating certain “unclean” animals, such as pork and bottom-feeders like lobsters.
Food that meets these strict requirements must be supervised in its production by a Rabbi and only then will it be certified as “Kosher”. These foods are marked in a special way by affixing a Kosher symbol on the product’s label. The most common one in America is the letter “U” inside a circle, or the letter “K” — but there are many more.
Because food producers must hire the services of a Rabbi to inspect and verify that they comply with these strict regulations, organizations like The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations collect a fee for their services. This fee adds to the cost of producing the food, which is, of course, passed along to the end consumer as a so-called “Kosher Tax”.
So what? You don’t buy Kosher food — or do you?
Take a minute right now to check out your kitchen pantry or that bag of chips you’re munching. If you’re like me, you will be shocked to see that just about everything has one of these Kosher symbols on it. (Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to return…)
It seems that just about everyone in the USA — all 307,006,550 of us — are regularly buying Kosher food and paying this tax. That’s quite surprising, don’t you think?
Manufacturers claim that the increase in food prices due to this tax is “minuscule”, yet reports claim that the tax is levied on more than 400,000 products in 8,000 plants in 80 different countries. The Union (U) employs approximately 1,000 supervisors, mashgichim in Hebrew, and about 50 rabbinic coordinators. But they are not the only ones doing this. The next largest is Rabbi Bernard Levy’s “Committee For The Furtherance of Torah Observance” which uses the “K” symbol. Canadian Kosher products are stamped with the letters “COR” which stands for “Council of Orthodox Rabbis”. If you’re in another country, chances are they have a special organization collecting the tax and affix a special symbol on your food. Here’s a partial collection below.
In the 1920s the Union (U) started its operation. The H. J. Heinz Company’s Vegetarian Beans became the first product to be kosher certified by the Union in 1923. Today it’s hard to find a food item in the supermarket that doesn’t have one of these symbols.
What’s even more surprising is that some of the Kosher certified products are certainly NOT produced for Jews. Consider the Premium Relish for Pork [below]. What’s up with that? Remember, pork is a definite no-no for those keeping Kosher.
In researching this article I have found Kosher aluminum foil, Kosher soap pads, toilet cleaner, plastic wrap… the list of non-food items paying the Kosher tax goes on ad infinitum.