Volume 8 Number 43

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
DC Kosher Vendor and the travails of kashrut in DC
         [Ronald Greenberg]


From: <ayf@...> (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 93 16:54:45 EDT
Subject: Administrivia

I would like to thank all those who responded to my earlier
administrivia posting. It is your feedback that makes this job
worthwhile to me. Here are some futher thoughts on some changes I would
like to implement. One problem has been that there will be periods when
I put out many issues, as many as 8-10 one evening last week (or the
week before) and then I may go for a few days with none or just a few
going out. I think it would be better if mail-jewish came out on a more
regular basis rather than burst mode. Deciding on the regularity will
also establish a sort of cap on the volume of the mailings, at the cost
of rapidaty of response turnaround. Since the actual mailing is being
done by a shell script, it should not be hard to modify the script to
queue up the mailings and add a cron program to send them out at the
proper time. My current feeling is that once every 5-6 hours is a good
starting point, meaning 4-5 mailing spread out over the day. I'm
interested on what you think the appropriate volume should be.

REQUEST: Someone to help write the shell scripts and cron entry. The
environment is a Sun workstation (if you need more info, tell me and
include how to find out the answer). When I say shell script, it can
either be a shell script, a perl script, etc. NOTE: ksh is not available
on Nysernet (unless someone wants to help get it up and running).

Along with the above, I have been offered some help in doing some of the
physical (as opposed to editorial) editing of the mailings. I would
catagorize submissions that come in into two catagories, those that can
go out with no modifications required by the submitter, and those that I
feel may need some rework or I have questions about. Right now,
submissions just sit in my inbox until I get around to dealing with
them. I will try to change that over the next week. My goal would be to
have all messages that are going directly into the queue acknowledged as
such within 24-48 hours, messages that I have editorial issues with
should be acknowledged that they are in that group within 24-48 hours,
but I'm not sure how long it will take to actually explain what my
issues are and discuss that with the submitter. That will clearly depend
on my overall workload.

I think that the above will be the driver to move from elm to
gnuemacs/vm to help automate some of these tasks. If there are any
gnuemacs/vm experts out there who can help with getting some of this
implemented I'd like to hear from you. It would also be nice when the
postings actually go into the queue, to send mail to the submitters of
that mailing that their posting is in vXnYY which is number Z in the
queue. Something for anyone willing to lend a hand to think about.

One thing I would like to bring up is volume vs diversity. As I
have to make judgement calls on what to get out first and what to delay,
especially if we decide to cap the volume, there are at least two things
I will be looking that I would like to mention. The first is that it is
my view that this forum be open to all members of the mailing list, so
if your name looks new to me, or I know that you have not posted
anything in a while, I will try and move your posting towards the top of
the list. If you have already had a fair share of the mailing volume, I
may choose to delay your submission. Of course, submissions that skirt
the edge of what I am comfortable with will move toward the end of the
queue as I email my concerns to you. Things that I think are of major
interest and concern to the mailing list I will move to the front.

Another issue are requests for travel information, places to stay, etc.
I think that these have value and do not at present take up much volume.
What I plan to do, is keep these separate and bunch them into one
mailing as enough come in, or some specific amount of time passes. I
will start with once per week as the time period.

Since I am already rambling, let me mention another point. I've started
taking a look at two gophers, one at Nysernet and the other at Delphi.
I've started to re-organize the archive material to make it easier to
get around under gopher. One of the gophers recognizes the mail file
format that most of the year issues in Volume1 are in, and presents each
file as a directory so that you can read each issue seperately. As I
learn more about gopher, I'll let you know.

Enough for now, and I hope I'll hear from some of you.

Avi Feldblum
<avi_feldblum@...>    or  ayf@volta.pr.att.com


From: Ronald Greenberg <rig@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1993 20:12:15 -0400
Subject: DC Kosher Vendor and the travails of kashrut in DC

With respect to the concerns about the DC kosher vendor getting driven
away from the holocaust museum, let's not get too excited.  A friend
of mine who visited his stand recently returned with a rather mild
explanation of what it's all about.  There are various spots where
vendors are allowed to set up.  There is a larger number of them where
the vendor is now than right by the holocaust museum.  The kosher
vendor could perhaps get closer to the museum, but he would have more
competition, requiring him to arrive very early in the morning.  I'd
imagine it is quite conceivable that he gets some nasty
comments/threats from another vendor if he sets himself up by the
museum in the other person's regular spot before the other person gets
there, but my friend's impression was that his absence from that spot
is mainly a result of his unwillingness to get there extremely early.

His regular location now is at 15th and Pennsylvania across from the
side of the Treasury Building.  (Since Pennsylvania jogs, there is
another intersection of 15th and Pennsylvania about a quarter mile
north near the front of the Treasury!)

I think the disclaimer has appeared before, but just to be safe: This
vendor is not under the supervision of the Greater Washington
Rabbinical Council.  On the other hand, it would surely be
prohibitively expensive for anybody to do so with such an operation,
because the Council would presumably require a mashgiach different
from the proprietor.  Also somebody told me that a specific
trustworthy person says he's trustworthy.  But I don't want to put
down the name, because it's hearsay, and I fear that a public
statement could put one at odds with the Rabbinical Council.  All in
all, this is a somewhat uncomfortable situation; I think everybody
would be happier about having a place to eat that is under

It seems to me that the Washington Vaad is remiss in its failure to
foster the existence of more kosher eating establishments in this
area.  Something immediately seems wrong if you compare the
availability of kosher eating establishments in Boston, Philadelphia,
and Baltimore to Washington.  All of those cities have several types
of restaurants in several places, including downtown.  Washington
currently has a Chinese place in each of Rockville and Potomac and a
pizza place in Silver Spring; there is nothing in the downtown area
except the new vendor.  I hate to make such a public criticism, but I
think at present there is a great deal of discontented, disrespectful
murmuring, which is perhaps worse.  Also, according to rumors, there
are people who wear kippot and eat at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant
that has no supervision.  I am also aware of other cases of people
eating at unsupervised places that I think would be reasonably likely
not to occur if there were more supervised places.

Actually, the trouble here extends beyond restaurant questions to
grocer/butcher/baker; I'll see if I can delicately expound on some of
the issues to see what comments and suggestions other people may have.
(Is this a mistake?  Should I really be accepting what goes on here
without complaint?  It is certainly nice to have a uniform official
standard for the city as to what is kosher, but it seems to me that
this quasi-unity is already starting to weaken and discontent
continues to fester.)

I should give a little more background on the grocer/butcher/baker
situation.  We have two such stores very close to each other in Silver
Spring that are certified in their entirety by the Vaad.  The places
are small, many people are not very satisfied with them, and I would
say that their prices average about 10% higher than a large store in
Baltimore, the Seven Mile Market.  The Seven Mile Market carries
packaged goods with various types of hashgacha and has meat, deli
counters etc. with goods supervised by the Star-K.  The Washington
Vaad does not accept Star-K supervision (except on packaged,
manufactured products).  There is also a supermarket called Katz's
next to the kosher restaurant in Rockville.  It used to be completely
unselective about what type of hashgacha it would accept on packaged
products and it's butcher/baker operations were generally considered
highly suspect in the Orthodox community.  Recently, it has gone under
the supervision of an Orthodox Rabbi from Baltimore.  (I haven't
gotten much data about him, but I think he probably is generally
considered respectable by Baltimoreans.)  I have heard that various
things have been or are being done to soup up the standards at Katz's
and that the place is appealing and inexpensive.  Rumor has it that
there are even people coming from Baltimore to shop there, whereas it
used to be that you would hear about people going from Washington to
shop at Seven Mile Market.  Katz's is still definitively disapproved
by the Washington Vaad, but I think that it is beginning to attract
more of a Washington clientele.  There always were some who shopped
there, but I think that there may gradually be more people who
affiliate with the Orthodox community crossing this line.

So what is one to make of all this?  Is this really the normal way of
the world as a Jewish community grows?  There are a lot of different
supervisory organizations in New York, one not accepting the other,
aren't there?  And I guess people manage; probably most accept one or
a few local organizations and don't worry too much when they eat in
the home of somebody else who affiliates with an Orthodox community.
But here I think there is some danger at the moment of community
fragmentation into those who buy from Katz's and those who don't.

Is the Vaad here anomalous?  Is there a proper and respectful way to
try to improve our kashrut options here?  There seem to be people here
who really have a great deal of animosity towards the Vaad as a body
or to certain members of it.  Often people put forth what I view as a
sort of knee-jerk hypothesis that it's all a money making racket for
certain Rabbis, so there's a limited, monopoly sort of situation.  I
find this idea detestable, but I don't think this opinion of some will
go away until more kosher places are available.  One rumor I find more
plausible is that the Vaad never approaches anybody about going under
supervision; they will only respond to people who come to them.
Another rumor is that the Vaad here will never under any circumstances
supervise a place that is open on shabbos, even if it is vegetarian,
is owned by non-Jews, ensures that things are not made on shabbos for
the motsei shabbos crowd, etc.  On the other hand, there are rumors
that there are some sort of other issues on which the Washington Vaad
has legitimately stricter standards than the Star-K, but there seem to
be very few people who believe that.  If nothing else, the Vaad is
doing a terrible job on public relations.  Rumor has it that some
people have tried to encourage a more progressive approach by the more
powerful members of the Vaad but that they are totally set in their
ways.  Is all of this impertinence?  Should I desist from this avenue
of discussion?

Ronald I. Greenberg	(Ron)		<rig@...>


End of Volume 8 Issue 43