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OK Removes Hashgacha From Basil in Brooklyn; Restaurant Responds

Yesterday, major kosher certifier, the OK, removed its hashgacha from the long standing kosher restaurant Basil in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Here are statements made by both sides and the current situation:

We are sorry to say that the OK removed their brand of kosher certification for a misunderstanding of issues not related to Kashrus. We are working diligently to obtain a new high level certification. In the interim, Basil will continue providing the highest standards of kashrus under the self certification of Menachem Mendel Schneerson son of Harav Sholom Ber Schneerson OBM of Kehilas Bais Schnei-Or, with Mashgichim on premises from open to close. We assure our customers that all products and ingredients used are strictly Kosher, Cholov Yisroel, Pas Yisroel and Bishol Yisroel. We will keep you posted!

  • This essentially means that they are staying open and “self certifying” with Rabbi Schneerson (not ‘the Rebbe’) who has a financial stake in the company, as they search for a new hashgacha.
  • The OK issued a follow up statement on their Facebook page:

Basil NY violated the Kashrus Standards of their contract with OK Kosher.

They were not willing to maintain the standards that are required under the Certification Contract.

Therefore we had no choice but to remove our certification.

  • Basil attempted to clarify here:

Due to a big misunderstanding, the OK abruptly removed their certification because the building’s landlord performed maintenance work outside of Basil on Shabbos. For an odd reason, this was misconstrued as Chilul Shabbos on Basil’s part. To reiterate, none of our Kashrus standards have been compromised in the slightest. Thank you for your continued support.

  • The OK is allowing consumers to call for more info by calling Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Weinfeld during business hours (9-5) at 347-515-3232.

 

As with any dispute, there are likely many sides to the story beyond what is being said in public.

For now, the restaurant is remaining open under self-certification and searching for a new kosher certifier. We will keep you posted once that is announced.

About the author

Dani Klein

Dani Klein is the founder of YeahThatsKosher, is passionate about global travel, good kosher food / restaurants, social media & the web, technology, digital marketing, and spending time with his friends & family.

Dani has an MBA in Marketing and works in the Social Media Marketing field for a large media agency.

  • David Sherman

    If indeed it was because the landlord did work on the premises on Shabbos, that doesn’t affect the kashrus (unless there’s a belief that the workers may have brought treyf food in while working). Is this another example of kashrus agencies going too far in trying to control things that aren’t about kashrus?

    • David Mal Cohen

      who cares. whatever it is they will get another hashgacha or they will close down.

    • Mosh Jay

      “Is this another example of kashrus agencies going too far in trying to control things that aren’t about kashrus?” That doesn’t sound to smart. The ok is only loosing money by removing the hadgacha so obviously there was an issue.

  • Bob

    “Self-certifying” – especially by a “mashgiach” who has a financial interest in the company – is enough reason to run – not walk – away from this place. “Self-certification” is as useless as a generic ‘K’ on a food product label. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options in the Crown Heights area.

    • David Sherman

      If you know the Rabbi in question, in principle it should be acceptable.

      If you’re visiting a foreign city and are invited by someone for Shabbos, and they tell you they’re shomer Shabbos, do you trust their kashrus without a mashgiach?

      If you go to a Chabad in a foreign city with no other organized Jewish community and eat there, do you trust the Chabad Rabbi’s self-certifying hashgacha? What if this Chabad charges for the meal (rather than hoping you’ll make a donation later), does that make a difference?

      Yes, I recognize that a restaurant owner has a financial interest in having his kashrus accepted and thus there’s an incentive to cheat, but again it depends on whether one can trust that individual. And if they’re “self-certifying” as a temporary bridge while arranging a new hechsher, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

      (I know nothing about this particular case — I’d never hear of Basil before and I don’t live in the NY area. I’m just discussing this in theory.)

      • Bob

        Running a for-profit business and “self-certifying” same IS NOT the same as eating in a fellow Jew’s home or at a Chabad House, David; these very different scenarios shouldn’t be confused with each other. There’s a story about a rebbe who used to eat at his chosid’s home whenever the former was in the latter’s town; the rebbe loved his chosid’s special dish. The chosid decided to go into business and sell the dish for a profit. The next time the rebbe was in town, before eating the dish that the chosid prepared for him, he asked about the hashgocha, though he had never heretofore inquired about a hashgocha; the rebbe explained that now that the chosid’s in a for-profit business, “self-certifying” is no longer adequate and a reliable hashgocha is required… and without one, the rebbe will no longer consume that chosid’s food.

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