Seizing an Educational Moment at Harvard Hillel
This past summer, the Boston area vegetarian restaurant chain Clover became certified kosher by Rabbi Barry Dolinger, an Orthodox rabbi in Providence, Rhode Island. A controversy erupted, both because Rabbi Dolinger’s standards differ from many mainstream kashrut-certifying organizations and because a Clover employee mistakenly tweeted that the restaurant was under the supervision of the Rabbinical Council of New England. Often such incidents have a tendency to turn political and nasty. At Harvard Hillel, however, we decided to turn the controversy into an educational moment and I invited Rabbi Dolinger to teach a class on kashrut supervision in general and on the particular areas where his positions differ from that of many mainstream kosher certifiers. Often kashrut disputes lead to vague accusations about this or that rabbi’s reliability. The 40 attendees of the class, however, had the chance to learn about the nuances of differing halakhic positions in order to make more informed decisions for themselves and to learn what questions to ask when assessing whether a restaurant’s kashrut standards meet their own.
Dani Passow, an alum of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class 21), serves as rabbi and educator at Harvard Hillel and is a researcher in the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School. Previously, Dani was the assistant campus rabbi at Columbia University Hillel and a rabbinic intern at Congregation Shaare Tefillah in Newton, Massachusetts. A graduate of Cooper Union’s engineering school and formerly a researcher in chemistry and bio-engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Dani studied in a number of yeshivot in Israel, including Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshivat Maale Gilboa. In 2012, he received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York. Dani served as rabbinic consultant for the Sukkah City design competition in Union Square, New York in the fall of 2010 and from 2010-2011 directed the Tav HaYosher—a non-profit program of Uri L’Tzedek, which certifies and promotes kosher eating establishments that treat employees fairly. He lectures and writes frequently about Judaism and social justice and was awarded the 2010 Whizin Prize in Jewish Ethics. Dani can be reached at email@example.com.