Sep 24, 2008
The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has today announced the formation of a high level Task Force that will produce a detailed practical guide to Jewish Principles and Ethical Guidelines, as applied to business and industry in general, and the kosher food industry in particular.
The Task Force will be chaired by Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir. Rabbi Meir is a leading authority in the field of Jewish business ethics and is the author of two weekly syndicated columns on the topic. The first, "The Jewish Ethicist," analyzes contemporary ethical dilemmas from the standpoint of Jewish tradition. The second, "Ethics at Work," adopts a more general ethical perspective, and has appeared weekly in the Jerusalem Post since 2004. In addition, other prominent members of the RCA, including well-known experts in the field of business ethics, have been appointed to the Task Force. The Task Force will also consult with respected representatives of the kosher food industry as well as business professionals.
We believe that the kosher food industry as a whole maintains an exemplary level of ethical practice, thanks in part to the presence of kosher agencies and supervisors. Nonetheless, we attach importance to having ethical guidelines incorporated as a matter of policy by companies receiving kosher supervision, thereby further raising the level of ethical compliance throughout the industry.
The purpose of the Guide will be two-fold:
1. It will require that a condition of kosher food certification be an agreement to adhere to all relevant civil laws and regulations as formulated, monitored and enforced by existing government regulatory and enforcement agencies, in whichever country they occur. Violations of such laws will be viewed by kosher agencies with utmost seriousness.
2. It will formulate and clarify relevant principles of Jewish law and ethics governing business conduct. Companies interested in conforming to the highest standards of Jewish ethics will be encouraged to adopt these principles voluntarily wherever possible, as a matter of corporate social responsibility.
In announcing the initiative, Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, President of the RCA, stated, "Ethics and social responsibility are central to the Torah and the rabbinic tradition, in business no less than in the home, the synagogue and the school. We are fully aware of the realities of a competitive marketplace spread all over the globe, and the need to provide affordable kosher food. In taking this step, the RCA seeks as a practical matter to reinforce ethical values and corporate policies, while ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of food products for the kosher consumer."