The New York Board of Rabbis and Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield are trying to persuade New York City to insist on the stricter standard of certification when it looks for a new kosher food vendor for the NYC Department of Corrections’ detention facilities. This new effort has come in response to multiple reports that religious prisoners were denied access to glatt kosher food.
In addition to meeting with Commissioner Dr. Dora Schriro and other Department of Corrections officials to review the matter and strategize on a resolution, Greenfield wrote to Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) Commissioner Edna Wells Handy, requesting that the city implement the procedures put in place by New York’s state and federal governments. Both governments require that kosher food served in prisons meets the certification standards adhered to by the majority of the Orthodox Jewish community.“Everyone has the right to practice their religion freely and without government intrusion,” Greenfield said. “This extends to those who are incarcerated in city facilities. Nobody should be forced to choose between eating and following their religious beliefs.”
Greenfield and the Board of Rabbis advised the DOC officials about the appropriate kosher certifying agencies for providing glatt kosher meat to the Orthodox inmates. These include the Union of Orthodox Congregations (OU), Organized Kashrus Laboratories (OK), Star K, K’hal Adas Jeshurun (KAJ) and others outlined in the Federal Bureau of Prisons Religious Certified Food Products Specification Quote Sheet.
The DOC manages several jails in the five boroughs, including the well-known Rikers Island. All of these jails are temporary holding facilities for defendants who are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to one year or less in prison. More than 100,000 prisoners go through Rikers Island each year on charges ranging from relatively minor infractions to major crimes including murder.