The kosher supervision of the Beis Din of Crown Heights (known by the symbol “CHK”) isn’t just a Beis Din – it is an integral part of the community. The people of the Beis Din, along with the support and participation of the residents of Crown Heights, make the Beis Din succeed in maintaining the community’s kosher standards.
Kashrus in Crown Heights as it exists today is a relatively new phenomenon. For many years, there was no official kashrus organization in Crown Heights. Until 1979, there was a volunteer Vaad Hakashrus overseeing kosher standards. From 1979 to 1986, there was the Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch, and HaRav HaGaon Zalman Shimon Dworkin, the Rav of Crown Heights, was the head of the Vaad.
Then, in 1986, after HaRav Dworkin’s passing, the Lubavitch Rebbe asked the people to go out and vote to establish a Beis Din. The Rebbe said that a Beis Din that the people elect is the strongest kind, and had the halachic status of a Beis Din kavua- a permanent Beis Din. The Crown Heights Beis Din became the first Beis Din kavua in the history of the United States.
After the elections of the Rabbonim of the Beis Din, the people went out to vote for a Vaad Hakohol.
The first thing the newly elected Rabbonim established – by the request of the community – was the Vaad Hakashrus, which was comprised of some members of the Vaad Hakohol as volunteers, including Rabbis L.Y. Shapiro, Mordechai Nagel, and Yossi Brook as administrator. Until the year 2000, the Vaad Hakashrus was headed by HaRav HaGaonYehudah Kalman Marlow and HaRav HaGaon Avraham Osdoba, shlita, who were together involved in kashrus on a daily basis.
Today after Rabbi Marlow’s passing, HaRav Osdoba, shlita, continues the running of the Vaad Hakashrus. Volunteer board members, including Rabbis Chaim Yaffe, Y.Y. HaKohen Katzman, and Shaya Boymelgreen, play an instrumental role in the Vaad Hakashrus. The day to day operation is run by Rabbis, Yossi Brook (administrator), Berel Levertov (Kashrus coordinator), and Zalman Osdoba (rabbinical coordinator).
The Vaad Hakashrus currently supervises approximately 45 companies, and employs about 75 mashgichim and shochtim.
We don’t have a limit anymore on what types of food we will certify, as long as the products meet the high standards set by the Beis Din. Now we supervise chocolate, candy and of course fancy cakes for simchas. The Beis Din wanted these items to be available with the highest standards of kashrus.
What have not changed over the years are the Vaad’s exacting kashrus standards. The Vaad only certifies food that is pas yisroel, bishul yisroel and Cholov yisroel.