Myth of the Kosher mafia

Examining an anti-Semitic claim: The Kosher Nostra, also called The Kosher Mafia:

Does the presence of certain symbols [hekshers] on a variety of food products indicate that a secret tax has been paid to Jews?

Hekshers

On Snopes.Com researchers David and Barbara Mikkelson write:

Folks search for proofs of their darkest imaginings everywhere, including on the shelves of grocery stores. Packages bearing marks whose meanings aren’t readily apparent to the average shopper have been interpreted by those always on the sniff for a Jewish conspiracy as signs that Big Business is in league with the Jews.

The rumor that the presence of those mysterious markings signifies that the manufacturers of those products have paid a secret tax to the Jews of America has been afoot for decades; the e-mail quoted on this webpage {click the link} is merely a recent manifestation of this age-old canard.

The claim is wholly false, and we wonder at the twisted minds that would advance such a slander. There is no “Jewish Secret Tax” and never has been.

The markings pointed to in the rumor are real; however, their purpose is entirely different from the one asserted by the rumormongers. They do not signal that a secret tax has been paid or that corporations have succumbed to blackmail; they are there to indicate to members of a particular faith that such items have been vetted as having met the strictures their religion imposes.

If the notion of a religion imposing dietary requirements upon its followers sounds like an outlandish proposition, keep in mind that only in recent times have Catholics taken to eating meat on Fridays, and that Muslims still eschew pork.

As to what those markings mean… read on

{On a separate note, religious Jews do sometimes use the phrase “kosher mafia” to criticize the lack of sufficient free market competition among producers of kosher red meat. That’s a legitimate subject of discussion, and it is not anti-Semitic to point out problems in the kosher meat industry. These issues have raised the price of red meat, and perhaps even contributed to it’s decline in availability. But that issue is not related to the urban myth cited above. The urban myth has to do with hekshers that appear on a wide variety of foods, while kosher red meat is rare, and often only found in speciality shops in Jewish communities.}

Snopes.com , also known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a website covering urban legends, Internet rumors, and hoaxes. It is a well-known resource for validating and debunking such stories.

http://www.snopes.com/racial/business/kosher.asp

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