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What is Hechsher Tzedek (Justice Certification)?

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How does one keep eco-kosher?

While a kosher label ensures the animal was slaughtered with a sharp knife, how can we be sure that the animal was not abused prior to slaughter? How can we be sure that workers in the factory farm that produces the eggs we buy are not mistreated? How can we know that the vegetables we buy were not treated with pesticides that are harmful to the environment? Worst of all, do we have to chose between the chicken with kosher certification and the chicken from the socially ethical plant?

Rabbi Morris Allen, of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, conceived a new certification called Justice Certification, or Hechsher Tzedek in Hebrew, which would signify if a kosher product was also eco-kosher.

In his blog, Rabbi Allen writes, “We need to be in a world where we can say that keeping kosher is the way in which I demonstrate not only a concern for my relationship to God and Torah but the Jewish concern for our relationship to the world in which we live.“

The Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are currently working together to implement Hechsher Tzedek. This new kosher certification will supplement – not replace - traditional kosher certifications.

Hechsher Tzedek seals will be placed on certified kosher foods that were produced in plants that operate within Jewish ethical standards. Kosher production facilities will be checked in six areas: fair wages and benefits, health and safety, training, corporate transparency, animal welfare and environmental impact.

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