Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Dunkin’ Donuts branch answers to a different authority 

West Orange may be among the few towns to have two Dunkin' Donuts under two different kashrut authorities, serving, by design or happenstance, two different types of clientele.

Last month, Adam Goldman, owner of the Dunkin' Donuts franchise at 581 Northfield Ave., announced that his baked goods are now certified under the supervision of Rabbi Isaiah Hertzberg, administrator of the Teaneck-based Quality Kosher Supervisory Service.

Earlier in the month, Samir Shah, owner of the Dunkin' Donuts on Pleasant Valley Way, announced that his store is kosher under the supervision of the Vaad HaKashrus of MetroWest.

It's an important distinction for many Orthodox Jews in the area who accept the Vaad's authority, but not Hertzberg's. Goldman acknowledged that Hertzberg's authority is generally not accepted by Orthodox Jews, but added that it is acceptable to most Conservative Jews. "I have a Conservative clientele, and they really appreciate it," said Goldman, who lives in West Orange. "My customers can now bring doughnuts to Golda Och Academy, or to soccer games, and into their homes."

While GOA head of school Joyce Raynor said the school would accept the doughnuts at the Northfield Avenue location as kosher, there is no consensus among Conservative Jews regarding Hertzberg, or any other kashrut authority. Rabbi Paul Plotkin, chair of the kashrut subcommittee of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, the Conservative movement's halachic body, said the committee has not issued movement-wide statements accepting or denying the authority of individual kashrut outfits since 1999. The best that can be said, he suggested, is that rabbis of a particular region accept or do not accept this authority.

While there is no consensus in Essex County, where the shop is located, among Conservative rabbis regarding Hertzberg, Conservative rabbis in the Teaneck area, where he is located, do not accept his authority.

However, Plotkin pointed out, he himself has provided kosher certification for baked goods at Dunkin' Donuts store franchises near his hometown in Margate, Fla., where the store also sells nonkosher items prepared in an oven. "Because the ingredients and the means of production are hechshered [produced under kosher supervision] and entirely separate from the treif stuff, one can certify certain products without certifying the whole store where there is no cross-pollination of ingredients."

Goldman's store has such a setup, where baked goods come from an Elizabeth production facility that is under the kashrut supervision of Rabbi Elazar Teitz.
Goldman said he was disappointed that he couldn't work something out with the Vaad, a consortium of local Orthodox rabbis. Conservative Jews who keep kosher will normally accept the authority of an Orthodox supervisor, but not the other way around.

"We recognize our limits," said Goldman. "We were never going to get Orthodox supervision because we are open on Shabbos."

Although his Dunkin' Donuts  franchise on Pleasant Valley Way is also open on Shabbat, Shah is not Jewish. From a halachic, or Jewish legal, perspective, Jewish owners must literally answer to a higher authority.

Goldman also owns two Dunkin' Donuts franchises in Paterson.


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