Rabbis representing kashrus agencies from around North America and beyond met for the AKO Vaadim Conference in Toronto Canada July 15-17 to unite, share best practices, and raise kashrus standards. The event was hosted by COR – Kashruth Council of Canada.
AKO, or the Association of Kashrus Organizations, is an umbrella body that unites different kashrus agencies around the globe in order to raise and maintain the highest levels of kashrus possible. AKO is headed by Rabbi Sholem Fishbane who also acts as Kashrus Administrator at the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc).
This year’s AKO conference addressed a number of fascinating topics including:
- Secrets of the kosher wine industry
- Partial certification of establishments (i.e. Slurpee Lists)
- Mock triefe products
- New insect infestations
- Mashgiach training courses
- Party planners, drop-offs and other headaches
- Blowing the lid off sherry casks
- Running a professional organization
- The milk industry in remote regions such as India
The conference was punctuated visits from many of Toronto’s senior rabbanim including two addresses from the Rosh Kollel of the Toronto Kollel, HaRav Shlomo Miller Shlita.
AKO’s Executive Director, Rabbi Sholem Fishbane relates, “The AKO Vaadim Conference is always a tremendous forum that allows the kashrus organizations to share their experiences with one another -- what works well, what needs improvement and how to better provide services to the kosher community who are the beneficiaries of all of the hard work that the kashrus organizations put it.”
This year’s AKO Vaadim conference was also marked by its international representation. Rabbi Moshe D. Gutnick from Sydney, Australia discussed “Party Planners, Drop-offs and Other Headaches” and outlined how his kashrus organization attempts to resolve these challenges. Rabbi Akiva Osher Padwa from London, England discussed “The Milk Industry in Remote Regions such as India” and detailed the very real concerns kosher certifiers have in applying Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s ztzl’s famous halachik dispensation regarding obtaining milk from countries like India that don’t have the same governmental controls found in Western countries.
According to Rabbi Fishbane, another notable feature of this year’s AKO Vaadim Conference was its host, COR-Kashruth Council of Canada. “Our friends at the COR put on quite a show. If they aren’t careful, we’re going to start having the AKO conference in Toronto every year.”
For Rabbi Yacov Felder, head of COR’s rabbinic board, that would be welcome. “On behalf of myself and the entire COR organization, it was an honor to have so many esteemed rabbis from around the world in our city to meet with one purpose – to strengthen the bonds of kashrus. A yashar koach to our chairman HaRav Sholem Fishbane shilta without whom the entire AKO organization would not be possible.”