A Hasidic butcher from New York has been accused of stocking the shelves of a kosher grocery store with non-kosher chicken and selling it to thousands of Orthodox Jewish families, authorities said.
"To sell non-kosher as kosher is one of the biggest acts of betrayal that a Jewish person can do to another," said Rabbi Menachem Meir Weissmandel of Chemed Shul, a local synagogue. "This is the darkest day in the history of our community since we settled in this area many years ago."
The butcher, Moshe Finkel, owns Shevach Meats, which buys kosher meats in bulk and slices and packages it for grocery stores, religious schools and Hasidic camps in the Catskill Mountains.
The state's Department of Agriculture and Markets are trying to determine the origin of the chicken, whether it was ever certified as kosher and advertised as such at the store, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department said. Violators are subject to fines of up to USD 1,000.
Weissmandel said Finkel was banned from the grocery store. He said store owners confronted the butcher after they noticed the shelves lined with kosher meats, even though Finkel's suppliers had not made a delivery. An early morning call to Finkel's home Thursday was not returned.
Since sundown on Saturday, when the Jewish Sabbath ended, families in the community who keep kosher have been scrubbing kitchen counters and stoves and dipping pots in scalding water as a cleansing ritual for being exposed to non-kosher foods.