Rabbi Daniel Presman traveled 10,800 roundtrip miles, a 22-hour roundtrip flight from his hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil, just to attend STAR-K’s ninth annual Kashrus Training Program, July 16-19, 2012, held in its Baltimore offices.
One of the most basic features of a functional Jewish community, no matter the size, has historically been the shochet. Rabbis are a necessity, but were not always available; access to kosher meat is indispensable. The original American Jewish community of twenty-three Dutch Jews from Brazil, who landed in New Amsterdam (later, New York) in 1654, was led by the celebrated Asser Levy, who was also the shochet. Well before the first ordained rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Rice, arrived in 1840, shochtim served the needs of American Jews.
In the more established kehilos of Europe, the shochet was also deemed critical. An intrepid shochet, who risked his life in the early 1930s to provide kosher meat to Jews in Soviet Russia, remarked during an interview:
Unquestionably, the latest operative terms in the burgeoning liquor industry are ‘transparency’ and ‘innovation’. Never before has there been more consumer enlightenment, courtesy of the information highway known as the Internet. Moreover, new venues have been introduced to tweak standard products or present new ones, so that distilleries can gain a greater share of the market. What previously was assumed to be a glatt kosher choice in the liquor cabinet has now become not so glatt.