Perelman Jewish Day School Bars Teachers Union

— by Lynne Fox, Chairperson, Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee

The Perelman Jewish Day School board has unilaterally withdrawn its recognition of the union which has represented their teachers without interruption since 1976 and refuses to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement.

Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee stands firmly with the teachers, their union and the parents and community leaders who have reached out to us as the board violates the rights of the school’s teachers to bargain collectively.

Although the school claims a religious exception to the relevant labor laws, it is the teachers’ concerns which are in alignment with tenets of Conservative Judaism. By dismantling the union and denying employees the power of collective bargaining, the Perelman Jewish Day School is acting in opposition both to major halakhic authorities and to the official position of the Conservative Movement. In 2008, the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards passed a teshuvah (legal position) which obliges institutions affiliated with the movement to comply with a series of Jewish labor laws. Among these, employers must pay a living wage and “may not interfere in any way with organizing drives.”

More after the jump.
This teshuvah draws upon a consistent line of rabbinic authority dating back to the Talmud. The third century Mishnah and Tosefta instructs employers to meet or exceed local custom in terms of wages and benefits, and the Babylonian Talmud gives town residents the right to intervene between a local employer and a worker to insure that wages are fair.

In 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, a leading Israeli Ashkanzi scholar and posek (authoritative adjudicator of questions related to Jewish law), recognized the right of workers to organize and to have their regulations and rules seen as binding. He also recognized, in certain conditions, their right to strike.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986), a Lithuanian Orthodox rabbi, scholar and posek, concurred in a series of Responsa that extended Rabbi Waldenberg’s holding to include the right of workers to prevent scabs from doing their jobs and to include the rights of religious school teachers to bargain collectively, even though community funds and the religious obligation to teach Torah were at stake.

The Perelman Jewish Day School has based its identity on a fidelity to halakhah (Jewish law) and derekh eretz (Jewish ethics). We call upon the school’s administration to bring this same dedication to its obligations as an employer of teachers who work hard every day to make the institution a center of Torah.

Jewish tradition has been clear and consistent — the treatment of workers and their right to organize are among the basic underpinnings of a just society. We therefore call upon the Perelman Jewish Day School to reverse their decision and begin to bargain with the teachers union over the terms of the next collective bargaining agreement.  

Wynnewood Giant Supermarket’s New Kosher Section

— by Ronit Treatman

The community has spoken, and Giant Supermarket has listened!  The Wynnewood store’s grand opening will include an improved and expanded kosher section.  Here is what is in store for us.

More after the jump.
Supervision

Keystone-K will provide supervision.  Rabbi Shlomo Caplan will be in charge of this kosher store-within-a-store.

Bakery

There will be a greater variety of kosher baked goods brought in from a larger assortment of vendors.  Giant’s in-store kosher bakery will prepare fresh pareve cakes and cookies.

Deli

The deli department will prepare a greater variety of fresh salads.  Kosher sandwiches will be available.  Kosher rotisserie and fried chicken will be offered.  Kosher sushi and fish will continue to be purveyed.  There will be a full kosher meat department.  Takeout Shabbat appetizers, dinner entrees, and desserts will be sold.  Kosher prepared pizza is in the works.

Israeli Products

Giant Supermarket is committed to providing a larger selection of Israeli products.  Among other new additions there will be a fine selection of imported kosher cheese from Israel.

Giant Supermarket is hoping that its kosher department will be a one stop destination for us.  The kosher grocery section will have 800 new items that were not previously available.  If there is anything that the community would like them to supply that they do not have, please do not hesitate to comment at the bottom of this article.  Giant’s management will be reading your comments.  

Yo Giant! Here Is What We Want In Our Wynnewood Kosher Section!

— by Ronit Treatman

Where is the Lower Merion’s Jewish shopper’s Main Street on a Friday afternoon?  Genuardi’s kosher section, of course!  It’s where we greet each other, catch up, and wish each other “Shabbat Shalom!”  Now, Genuardi’s has been sold to Giant Supermarkets.  What will this mean for our kosher section?  We won’t know for possibly another ninety days, until this transaction is given final approval by the Federal Trade Administration.  I have conducted an informal survey of a wide cross section of the Lower Merion Jewish community about what they would like from their neighborhood supermarket kosher section.  By contacting synagogues of every denomination and several Jewish neighborhood list serves, I have reached over 5,000 Genuardi’s customers.  The issues that are important to Genuardi’s kosher customers are size, supervision, and selection of products.  

More after the jump.
Size

Several people mentioned that they would like a spacious kosher section to shop in.  They held up the Shoprite on Route 70, in Marlton, New Jersey as an example of what they would like.  What Shoprite has done been brilliantly is that it has created the “Kosher Experience.”  The “Kosher Experience” is a “store-within-a-store”.  It is under the supervision of a Rabbi, with employees who are well versed in kashrut (kosher laws), and  who provide outstanding service.

Supervision

One member of the community informed everyone on the Lower Merion Shuls (Orthodox) List Serve:

The two Genuardi’s stores with kosher departments under Keystone-K supervision are scheduled to be converted into Giant stores during the next six months. Since Giant has a long existing relationship with a supervision agency that is not accepted by the community, this may not be good news.

It is very important to the most observant members of our community to retain the services of Keystone-K supervisors in order to be confident that they are complying with all the kosher laws when they are purchasing food from Giant.

Product Selection

Bakery

Many members of the community would like an in-house kosher bakery.  They especially requested many pareve (prepared without meat or milk products) baked goods.

Butcher

Current Genuardi’s customers would like better quality fresh meat, and a greater variety of cuts to be available.  All of the respondents thought the kosher meat should cost less, as it does at the ACME.  Several suggested having a special sale each week on one item from the meat section.  They explained that they host large groups of people for Shabbat dinner, and that it becomes prohibitive.


Deli

People are requesting a meat deli and a dairy deli where they can purchase fresh sliced cheeses and other high quality products.  Especially requested are Cholov Yisroel dairy products.

Prepared Food

Local residents long for a kosher salad bar, sushi, prepared sandwiches, freshly prepared meals, and prepared Shabbat foods.  

Israeli Products

People love getting imported Israeli products such as pickles, dips, frozen foods, and dairy specialties.  The Shoprite on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia carries the best selection of all the area supermarkets.  

One of the women on the Hadassah list serve wrote, “I shopped almost exclusively at Giant when I lived in MD and absolutely loved it. I’m excited about this change.”  Giant’s acquisition of Genuardi’s is an opportunity to not just retain, but to upgrade our Main Street.  Up to this point, members of our community have murmured about this among themselves.  I have assumed the responsibility of bringing the community’s concerns to Giant’s management’s attention.  No more murmurs!  We are your Jewish customers, hear us roar!