Kosher food request is just a beginning

For too long kosher food has been an option rather than a requirement at community dinners sponsored by Jewish agencies in the Bay Area. Jews who kept the faith had to eat airplane-type meals, or skip events altogether, rather than feel like lepers at what should be all-inclusive community affairs.

After years of debate, the Northern California Board of Rabbis finally had the courage last month to ask that all major events provide only kosher food.

Yes, it took courage. Some Jewish organizations no doubt feel they don't have the money to spend on more-expensive kosher dinners, and shouldn't have to if most people coming to the dinner don't keep kosher.

But this isn't about "most" people. This is about Jewish people. And no Jewish organization should make an observant Jew feel like an outsider. Kosher food must be a standard and not an option at Jewish community events.

The board of rabbis, however, must do more than just issue a proclamation. The board must help Jewish organizations find kosher food at an affordable price. The board must talk to local hotels and local caterers, impressing upon them that there are good business reasons for providing the Jewish community with tasty kosher food at reasonable prices.

The board also must ensure that there are community mashgiachs who will supervise the kosher cooking, as prescribed, for a fair price. Supervision cannot be the domain of any one person or organization. Perhaps the board should provide a list of approved mashgiachs who will do the job for a reasonable fee.

If we all work in concert with the board of rabbis, we can enhance the Jewish standards of our community and end the shame caused by years of neglecting kosher standards.