We interrupt this blogcation for this important update on a developing news story.
As of Thursday, Doheny Kosher Meats has a new kosher supervision. The rabbi signed on the certificate is a relative unknown in the Los Angeles kosher community. Rabbi Menachem Weiss is the assistant rabbi at Nessah Synagogue and has now inserted himself into the recent Doheny Kosher Meat situation.
I spoke with Rabbi Weiss for a while and what follows is based on our conversation.
First, what actually happened at Doheny Kosher Meats?
We have all seen or heard about the surveillance footage. The most important fact is that the video was not filmed at Doheny Kosher. The video shows a fence and I am told by Rabbi Weiss that there is no such fence at Doheny on Pico. The footage was taken from a non-Glatt Kosher butcher in the Valley that is owned by the brother in law of Mike, the owner of Doheny. Mike supplied his brother in law with meat, but Mike insists that there is no legal or practical connection between the two butchers. What happened at the butcher in the Valley was definitely shady, but there is no evidence that anything similar occurred at Doheny.
Ostensibly, only the RCC mashgiach had the keys to the freezer. This is the appropriate protocol and would make it impossible for non-kosher meat to be sold out of Doheny. However, the RCC mashgiach did take breaks from supervising to daven. This is fairly common. In this case, the concerns raised by the surveillance video coupled with the breaks taken by the mashgiach apparently gave the RCC cause to terminate the supervision. There are rumblings of a video showing a car pulling up at Doheny and making a delivery while the mashgiach was away but it seems that no one has seen this video if it exists at all.
As far as the public knows, and we have no reason to think othewise, the RCC does not claim that there was non-kosher meat on site. They claim that protocols were breached and they want to get out of the business of supervising Doheny kosher.
The new supervisor is actually the son of the previous supervisor of Doheny Kosher Meat. A long time ago, the RCC supervised Doheny as a non-Glatt butcher. When RCC decided that they were going all Glatt, they removed their non-Glatt hechsher from Doheny. In the interim, the father of the current rav hamachshir, Rabbi Weiss, provided Doheny with a non-Glatt hechsher. Eventually Doheny capitulated to pressure from the RCC and the public and went all Glatt so RCC took the hechsher over again.
Rabbi Weiss wants to help Doheny earn back the trust of the RCC and the kosher consumer. To that end, their protocols will require two full time mashgichim so that there won’t be any down time without a mashgiach. New locks have been installed and the only key will be in the hands of the mashgiach. Additionally, more cameras are being installed inside the facility. There will be no blind spots throughout the store. Rabbi Weiss and his father will have full time access to the surveillance footage and will personally monitor it. No deliveries will be made not in the presence of the mashgiach. All meat in the store from before the holiday will be removed and will not be sold as kosher meat. The cameras, mashgichim, and loss on the meat all are at the expense of Doheny Kosher and Rabbi Weiss is not receiving any compensation for his supervision. Finally, Rabbi Weiss is requiring that Doheny completely disassociate from the butcher in the valley in the surveillance footage.
Rabbi Weiss is not trying to get into the hashgacha business. He is trying to help Doheny get back in business and find the good graces of a skeptical public. Hopefully, the RCC will take note of all the new and improved protocols and reissue its supervision to Doheny Kosher Meat. Rabbi Weiss has not decided how they will proceed after the holiday.
It seems that the problems with Doheny Kosher Meat are more procedural than substantive. Until the RCC makes a substantive claim there is no reason to think otherwise. Under the new protocols there should be no doubt as to the kosher status of the meat.