That is the sound of comprehension.
To those of us who have been around a while, particularly for the flare-ups of the Orthodox vs. non-Orthodox, erm, discussions, the subject of shrimp encrusted fish sticks is a tender and painful one. One day, ck, a co-founder of this site and all around nice guy who happens to also be Orthodox, defended the claim that perhaps Reform Jews (and by extension Conservative Jews) were truly in breach of Jewish cultural norms. He told us the story of his visit to the supermarket some time ago when he found a package of frozen fish sticks. Gourmand that he is, he decided to explore further when he saw a kashrut symbol on the box. Delving inquisitively into the small print on the package, our intrepid reporter identified the ingredients list and immediately spotted the word shrimp among others.
If you don’t know, shrimp ain’t kosher. Ever. We’re talking biblical unkosher. Yes, yes, it’s a punishment, but who ever said being Jewish was easy? Apparently, after seeing this unimaginable combination of a kosher symbol adjacent to a fish stick slathererd with shrimp-filled crust, ck did some further investigation and discovered that the kashrut symbol was provided by a non-Orthodox rabbi! Damn those wily non-Orthodox rabbi who will provide a hechsher (kosher certification) to any fish stick that walks, even if it’s got shrimp bits on it.
Today, however, a story on Ynet brings us full circle and provides the explanation we were seeking all along. A couple was purchasing some Thailand-made red curry in a jar that was certified kosher. Now, this wasn’t just any old Reform certification, nuh uh, this was certified by the Chief Rabbinate and certified for use by Badatz. That’s kinda like having Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski certify that you can play basketball – there ain’t any room left for doubt. Our couple, however, had traveled in Thailand and suspected something fishy might be going on here since red curry sauce over there tends to be made with seafood ingredients. So they removed part of the Hebrew kashrut label that had been pasted on the container and located the original English language ingredients label. And what did they find?
Shrimp paste on a Chief Rabbinate/Badatz kosher product!! The heavens opened and the angels let out a scream of horror at that very moment. Think of all those Jews who innocently ate their chicken pieces smothered in red curry sauce over white jasmine rice while violating God’s own laws!
Of course, non-Orthodox rabbis everywhere were cheering, relieved, because that shrimp-encrusted fish stick story was never going to be held over their heads again. At least not on Jewlicious.
The couple, whose name is never mentioned in the story, filed a complaint, presumably to the Rabbinate, and the matter was looked into. Everybody sighed in relief when it was learned that the product was indeed kosher, as advertised. Apparently the manufacturer simply plastered the label intended for the Israeli market over packaging and the label for other markets. While these other markets did receive red curry sauce with shrimp bits, the Israeli market’s red curry arrived with none. This red curry, hallelujah and praise to God, was indeed kosher and could be consumed by good Jews everywhere. It was merely a labeling mishap by a company seeking to save a few shekels.
Of course, now Jews everywhere will be lamenting the loss of authenticity in their Thai food and wondering what real red curry sauce tastes like. Just one bite, please?
You’re welcome, ck. 😉