Bubba-meisehs

Exposing the myth of the 'kosher food tax.'

By AVI SHAFRAN
January 23, 2007 21:32
4 minute read.
Bubba-meisehs

gefilte fish 88. (photo credit: )

In an unintentionally amusing video being e-mailed around, a large-boned, jowly man with a droopy mustache and hair parted down the middle sits at a desk and reveals a secret scam that Jews have been levying on unsuspecting Gentiles for years. Behind him hang an American flag and a banner featuring a large swastika. The short "program" is billed as "White Nationalist News" and our trusty correspondent is identified as "Mich Bubba." Heavy metal guitar introduces and ends the spot; the refrain of the tune (so to speak) is "Tricky, Tricky Yid." The conspiracy Mr. Bubba proudly exposes is the "Jewish tax" that hides in plain sight from unsuspecting non-Jews in secret code on food packaging. Long familiar to Hebrews of traditional bent, the various kosher symbols (the popular "u" inscribed in an "o" that is a trademark of the Orthodox Union - which Bubba calls the "United Rabbinical Council" - as well as myriad graphic riffs on the letter "k") are indications that the product so marked was produced under the supervision of a rabbi expert in the intricacies of both kosher law and food science. Bubba hews to the belief that such foods are simply "blessed by a rabbi" and identifies one product as carrying a second sinister rabbinical group's certification - "parve" - which he pronounces "parVEY" (French rabbis, probably). In his essential point, of course, Bubba's right. Companies do indeed pay for kosher certification. As they also do, of course, for the right to display, say, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval (for which manufacturers must purchase advertisement space in Good Housekeeping magazine). Or as they indirectly do through increased manufacturing costs for the right to call their products "organic" or "natural." To Bubba, however, the Jewish arrangement is singularly unkosher; it smacks, to his fuzzy lights, of a Jewish "shakedown." If companies pay for a rabbi's service, he unreasons, the cost must surely be passed on - secretly, of course - to "Gentile" consumers. THE RISIBLE accusation is nothing new; it resurfaces almost every time logic-challenged anti-Semites manage to catch their breath between rants on the Middle-East and "Jewish control of the media." As to inconvenient facts, The New York Times reported in 1975 that the cost to General Foods for rabbinical supervision of its "Bird's Eye" products worked out to .0000065 of a cent per item. A Heinz Company representative maintained that its own kosher labeling actually decreases the cost of items, by increasing the market for them - the only rational reason, of course, a company would choose to pay for such a service in the first place. Nor is Bubba compelled to buy one brand of corndogs or beer over another. If the kosher item in fact proves more expensive, he can simply opt for one that hasn't been supervised by a rabbi (which, he makes quite clear, he prefers in any event). If there is anything Jew-haters don't like, though (besides Jews), it is having to deal with pesky facts. There are more important things to do, like sowing hatred and suspicion. Most folks even loosely connected to reality know that there are no Elders of Zion (at least none who aspire to world control), and no Jews who murder Christians to mix their blood into matzot, that such things are (forgive me) Bubba-meisehs. And yet, millions keep even those myths alive (not to mention create new ones, like Jewish recruitment of Arab innocents to fly planes into buildings). So it should hardly be surprising that there are people accusing us Jews of less obvious, more insidious crimes - like kosher certification. The persistence, ubiquity and sheer creativity of anti-Semitism rightfully concern us. But there is also something curiously invigorating about it all. Because it points to what underlies Jew-hatred: the suspicion that the Jewish people are special. However odd it might seem of God, He did indeed choose the Jews. In other words, yes, Bubba, there is a plot (though not exactly a conspiracy; there's only one Plotter). But Bubba needn't panic. What anti-Semites like him don't realize is that the Jewish mission isn't to subjugate but to educate. Keep it under your hat, Bubba, but what we Jews are charged with is living lives of holiness and service to God and man. That includes prayer, charity and acts of kindness, study of holy texts and meticulous honesty in all our dealings - as well as a multitude of ritual matters, including eating kosher food. But no, Bubba, undermining society and levying hidden taxes aren't on the list. One day, God willing - likely when we Jews shoulder our mission with more passion and determination - those who labor so hard to hate us will suddenly be stopped cold in their tracks and made to meet a reality they never considered: that Jewish specialness was never a threat to them at all, but a gift. The writer is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.


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