By Sue Fishkoff, JTA
As the kosher food industry continues to swell, so does the number of female kosher supervisors. And now they are receiving professional recognition.
The first known training course for mashgichot (women supervisors) will be held this fall in Baltimore.
Organized by the Star-K kosher-certification agency, the weeklong seminar is aimed at women supervisors in the food industry. It will include an overview of proper procedures, an analysis of kosher laws and policies, and field trips to working kitchens.
Mashgichim have enjoyed this kind of professional support for years, but women have had to train themselves.
Yael Kaner, a Chabad-Lubavitcher and chief kosher supervisor at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Md., says it’s about time women got their due.
“I’ve been jealous of the guys for years,” she says. “I wanted to go to their course, but it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to sit in a roomful of men.”
When Kaner started doing kosher supervision 30 years ago, she was not paid nearly the same as her male counterparts. Today, at Pearlstone, she makes a good salary, and has full benefits and a 401(k) plan.
But it was a long haul, fraught with stereotypes to overcome. Upon moving to Washington, D.C., in 1987, she applied to work for the local kosher board.
“They asked, ‘Why do you want to do this? It’s such a dirty job,’ ” she recalls.
Six years ago in Great Neck, N.Y., Kaner was told not even to bother applying — that only men were hired for the jobs.
Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld of the Star-K, who’s organizing the fall course, oversees several women supervisors, and says that they are often better than men because they are so detail-oriented.
“They’re very meticulous,” he says. “They don’t deviate — either a thing is right, or it’s not. A guy, a lot of times he’ll do a talmudic analysis. I don’t want a talmudic analysis. A mashgiach’s job is to see, hear and report.”
Read full article, here