The new supervisors are all in their 20’s and 30’s, and previously studied the kosher laws with Shavei Israel’s emissaries in Poland, Rabbi Boaz Pash and Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis. Subjects covered include the separation between milk and meat products; the handling of the kitchen before and during Shabbat; and the laws pertaining to food on Pesach, among others.
While Shavei Israel has high hopes for the future employment of its new graduates, there are unfortunately very few opportunities in Poland for kosher supervisors. Although Polish restaurants that serve Jewish-style food have attained success, almost none of them are kosher nor owned by Jews. One genuinely kosher restaurant, “Shlomo’s,” can be found in Warsaw, and it operates under the supervision of the local chief Chabad Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Stambler. The restaurant primarily caters to groups of Israeli teenagers who come to Poland on heritage trips relating to the Holocaust.
On the other hand, Warsaw will soon boast a museum of Jewish history, which is likely to draw thousands of Orthodox Jews from overseas. Additionally, the Marriott hotels are planning to implement kosher catering in the museum’s eateries, despite a failed attempt to open a high-end kosher restaurant inside the hotel itself.
In any case, the kashrut course’s proprietors view the new group of mashgichim as a herald of something deeper. “Most Polish Jews grew up unaware of the laws of keeping kosher,” says Michael Freund, Chairman of Shavei Israel. “By training a cadre of kosher supervisors, we are helping Poland’s Jews to reconnect with their heritage.”
Polish Jews comprised half of the Holocaust’s six million victims. Of those who survived the Nazi onslaught, most emigrated following the creation of Israel in 1948 or during anti-Semitic campaigns in the late 1950s and 1968. Since the communist regime crumbled in 1989, there has been a rise in the number of Polish Jews returning to their roots.
“This latest achievement is an important step along the way towards providing important tools, knowledge and resources to the tens of thousands of Hidden Jews in the country,” stated a Shavei Israel spokesperson, “who are slowly but surely rediscovering and re-embracing their heritage.”