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Treif chicken scandal: chief rabbi announces 'proper, forensic' investigation

Warren Goldstein vows South Africa's Jewish community will emerge 'stronger and better' following last week's revelations

South Africa's chief rabbi Warren Goldstein

    The Chief Rabbi of South Africa has announced a “proper, internal, forensic investigation”, after 20 treif chickens were found in the kitchen of the country’s largest kosher caterer.

    The discovery on the premises of the Stan & Pete catering company sent shock waves throughout the community.

    “We’re trying to still comprehend the impact of this, and we’re still trying to understand what this means and everything that took place,” said Rabbi Warren Goldstein In a video message to the South African Jewish community.

    Stan & Pete has been a fixture in the South African community for over 40 years, catering a large number of the community’s simchahs.

    The Beth Din immediately revoked its certificate of supervision

    Rabbi Goldstein referenced the messages he had received “from so many people who are expressing their concern and their sense of destabilised trust.”

    He said that the Beth Din was launching “a proper, internal, forensic investigation, so that we can properly understand what took place, how our systems were circumvented, what we can learn from this, how we can build the system to become better.”

    He added the Beth Din had already been working implementing an improved supervision system, which was now going to fast-tracked “so that by the end of six months, the entire new system will apply right across the board, to all establishments and to all caterers.”

    “For example, and this is the most important one, that currently the Mashgichim (supervisor) are employed by the proprietors and not by the Beth Din – that is going to change,” Rabbi Goldstein said.

    “And we’re also going to introduce new systems of technology, in surveillance and cameras, in order to improve and modernise the entire system.”

    He said the community would emerge from this “stronger and better”, as well as assuring that “none of the steps that we’ve outlined so far are going to cost the community extra money, because we’re committed to the idea that Kashrut is a right of every single member of our community, and it should be as affordable as possible.”

    The Johannesburg Beth Din also released a public statement on Thursday, saying it “acknowledges its full responsibility in the matter of the treif chicken found at Stan & Pete’s kitchen last week.

    “The Beth Din feels that the offence is all the greater because we had placed so much trust in a caterer who was supposedly honest and we feel all the more betrayed and let down by a caterer that had always been trusted and supported by the community for so many years.

    “In fact, the Beth Din is considering taking up the matter in the criminal court and having the caterer prosecuted, if he is the guilty party.

    “In the future, please G-d, the Beth Din will spare no effort in ensuring that our Kashrut will be on the highest level possible, and will deserve to enjoy the trust of our Community and international organisations.”

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