Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC)
Council of Orthodox Rabbis (COR)?
Is the Council of Orthodox Rabbis (COR) a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), and do all COR revenues go to the CJC? And if not all, then what proportion of COR revenues does the CJC pocket?
And what proportion of all CJC income comes from kosher labelling?
On the CJC web site under Our Aims and Objectives is listed the aim of raising funds, but kosher certification is not included among the means of raising funds, suggesting either that the CJC does not receive funds from kosher certification, or else that the funds received from kosher certification are too trivial to mention, or else that the CJC wishes to conceal this source of income from public view:
Using the CJC search engine to search for "kosher" or for "COR" or for "Council of Orthodox Rabbis" turns up no acknowledgement of a connection between the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Council of Orthodox Rabbis.
The impression that it would be in CJC interests to dispel here is that the CJC is less a body representing Jews and deriving its support from Jews, than it is a body which taxes the unwitting Canadian public and represents hidden interests, projecting the appearance of representing Jews only to bolster its perceived legitimacy.
to the CJC,
and how burdensome
The Canadian public might be interested to know how much kosher-licensing grosses the CJC each year, and how much all kosher licensing (supervised not only by the CJC, but by all other kosher groups, whether these groups are in Canada or outside) costs the average Canadian household each year. Keeping the license fees secret, or merely alluding to them by means of impressionistic generalizations, only encourages speculation that the fees are being concealed because they are unconscionably high. For example, let us consider the following statement:
Rabbi Levy's ball-park estimates above of kosher-licensing fees only pour fuel on the fire of our curiosity. Can any business be found that really pays only $250 annually? Is the highest amount paid really only $40,000? If rabbi Levy's estimates are accurate, then what harm would be done in disclosing, by mutual consent of all parties, what the fees actually are in many different cases?
And let us not overlook that the estimates cited above are twenty-five years old. If since 1975 kosher fees have been climbing 5% annually, then the 1975 fee of $40,000 would become today's fee of $135,454; and if climbing 10% annually, then the 1975 fee of $40,000 would become today's $433,388; and if climbing 15% annually, then the 1975 fee of $40,000 would become today's fee of $1,316,758.
Examining a more recent mention of a certification fee, we note that in 1992, Maryland rabbi Jonah Gewirtz projected extracting $700,000 in one year from steel manufacturers alone:
It is curious to those of us to whom annual revenues of $700,000 from a single source alone would seem like wealth, that to rabbi Gewirtz they do not. And we note also that this more recent citation is still eight years old, which invites the computation that if kosher-certification fees levied upon steel manufacturers rose, say, ten percent annually for eight years, then that anticipated annual revenue of $700,000 would today become an anticipated annual revenue of $1,500,512.
The impression that the CJC would be trying to dispel here is that kosher licensing brings income in sinful volume, and imposes upon the Canadian consumer a substantial burden. Veiling the magnitude of kosher-certification fees under a cloud of secrecy gives the impression of protecting the public from the shock of discovering how high kosher-certification fees really are, an impression not dispelled by the tacit admission by the Kosher Overseers Associates of America at http://www.kosher.org that fees generally are skyrocketing, which tacit admission is carried in their claim that they themselves are "Foremost in combatting skyrocketing Kosher Fees."
on the side of
truth in labelling?
On the one hand, a sales pitch advocating kosher labelling claims that kosher certification offers a sales advantage — that consumers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, prefer products that are kosher-certified:
On the other hand, however, there looms an enormous incongruity — which is that kosher labelling is deliberately secret. To take me as an example — whereas in December of 1999 I would have estimated that the number of kosher-labelled products in my house was zero, a count revealed that it in fact considerably exceeded 100 — a rather astonishing discrepancy. From my own experience, and from the experience of others I have spoken to, I would venture to hypothesize that something like 9 out of 10 Canadians are unaware that their food and household products come with kosher labels, and perhaps even 99 out of 100. The average consumer who takes the trouble to read package labels will not recognize the esoteric kosher symbols that he encounters there.
We are left, then, with two questions: (1) Might the claim that kosher labelling will increase sales be disingenuous? (2) Are we to continue in our present state of conspiratorial, secret labelling, or enter into a new era of truth in labelling?
Such truth in labelling can easily be realized by legislating that kosher identification always start with the word "KOSHER," that a Magen David be placed immediately below, and beneath that any further information which may be of use to the kosher-certification agency, or to the consumer. (Of course nothing prevents the CJC from adopting truth-in-labelling practices even before they are imposed by legislation.) The contrast between the old way of doing it and the new way is illustrated below:
Of course the legislation could stipulate that the new, informative label be enclosed in a circle rather than a rectangle, if continuity with current COR graphics were desired. The location of the kosher label should also be standardized, either close to the product name, or else close to the bar code — as things are done today, the kosher label is sometimes prominent, but at other times hidden. (One imagines that if kosher labelling is thought to improve sales, then manufacturers will prefer to display it prominently beside the product name rather than hiding it away near the bar code.) And of course, somewhere should be readily available to the consumer the expansion of acronyms, as for example that COR stands for Council of Orthodox Rabbis.
The impression that your answer would be attempting to correct here is that the promotional claims of increased purchasing by the general public following kosher certification is palpably false, as kosher certification is kept secret from all but a select group. This negative impression is bolstered by such observations as the objection of Jewish groups to being required by the European Parliament to label kosher meat as kosher, which requirement was expected by Jewish representatives to decrease sales, leading to a doubling or tripling of kosher meat prices.
To put it another way, the impression that your answer would be attempting to correct here is that the CJC knows that public recognition that COR stands for Council of Orthodox Rabbis, and that it constitutes kosher certification, would lead to a drop in sales to the general public of products bearing the COR label.
To put it still another way, the impression that your answer would be attempting to correct here is that the CJC promotes the use of a label whose significance must be kept secret in order to avoid causing a collapse in sales.