MILWAUKEE – It can be challenging to maintain a kosher diet, even for Jews who grew up eating kosher. Every product in the store — excluding fresh produce — must be checked to see if it carries a kosher-certification symbol. Kosher meat can be more expensive. Even kosher-style delis or restaurants are usually not kosher (the “style” part is a dead giveaway).
For food producers, it takes extra effort to obtain kosher certification. A company must contact a kosher supervision agency — usually one of the big four: OU, Kof-K, OK and Star-K — and pay a fee to cover the expenses of researching product ingredients and production facilities.
Companies that choose to become kosher certified, however, are much appreciated by observant Jews. That’s why on Thursday, June 7, Lake Park Synagogue will honor Burke Candy, Colectivo Coffee, Lakefront Brewery, Rishi Tea and the Spice House for their decision to obtain kosher certification.
“Each year we honor people who have made an impact on our community,” said Dena Abramowitz, a member of Lake Park Synagogue. “We want to thank the companies that produce food items in the City of Milwaukee under kosher supervision.”
Ronna Bromberg Pachesfsky, a long-time member of the synagogue, added: “I don’t think anybody has ever taken the time to thank these people for what they are doing.”
Keeping companies kosher
Dan Aleksandrowicz, the tax and compliance manager for Lakefront Brewery, said the company has been certified since 2005 after he and his boss “noticed that [kosher certification is] important to some people.”
Aleksandrowicz said getting certified requires more than just having the facility inspected for cleanliness.
“We had to get a certificate from all of our suppliers that said they’re kosher and inspected.”
Julia Burke, who owns Burke Candy with her husband, Tim, said the company has been kosher certified since the 1930s.
“My husband’s grandfather was in the candy industry in Chicago,” said Julia. “Many of the people in the industry were Jewish. He was Catholic, but many of his friends were Jewish. They encouraged him to get kosher certification.”
When Julia and Tim took over the business, they decided to carry on with the kosher legacy.
The event is the annual fundraiser for the East Side synagogue and will include a buffet. Several of the honorees will bring samples of their products, but the purpose of the event is to honor them, said Abramowitz. The dinner will also honor the memory of Lorraine Hoffman, a member of the shul who died last year.
Everybody is welcome. To register, go to LakeParkSynagogue.org or call 414-962-5508.
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To be honored for having kosher certification:
Burke Candy is a family-owned business founded in 1929. The company uses old recipes and adds new ones. It’s headquartered in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood.
Collectivo Coffee was founded in 1993. The company sources its coffee from around the world and roasts it locally. Collectivo coffee houses are all over the metro-Milwaukee area.
Lakefront Brewery began bottling craft beer in 1987. Tours of its Milwaukee River location are very popular and regularly receive high ratings by TripAdvisor.
Rishi Tea was founded by Milwaukeean Joshua Kaiser in 1997. Nowadays, its teas are sold worldwide and are renowned for being certified organic, as well as using fair-trade practices.
The Spice House, established in 1957, has its main store on Old World Third Street, with several other branches in the Milwaukee area.