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The Vaad in a Nutshell
The Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California, also known as Northern California Kosher, is a community service organization whose mission is the maintenance of a high level of Kosher quality supervision. The word "Vaad" in Hebrew means association. It is composed of Rabbinic and lay leaders providing kosher certification, supervision, and inspection for caterers, wholesale and retail food vendors, and food production companies in Northern California.
The VAAD was founded in 1996 by a cross-section of the Rabbis and concerned kosher-observant people in the area who saw the need for an improved level of kosher supervision in Northern California. Currently the VAAD supervises 17 eating establishments, 22 food production facilities, 8 caterers who are always kosher, and has supervised over 120 events with over 40 different caterers. (A complete directory is available here). In addition to our own work, Vaad members subcontract with other international kosher agencies (the OU,OK, Kof-K, Star-K,etc.) to supervise almost all of the kosher food production in Northern California.
The Vaad Standards equal, or exceed, those set for the kashrus world by the OU, the OK, and other leading kosher certification agencies. Consumers eating in VAAD establishments, or partaking of VAAD certified kosher foods, can be assured of standards that would be acceptable in any major kosher center around the world, be it New York, Los Angeles, or Jerusalem.
Because the VAAD is the major local, regional kashrus agency for Northern California it provides several benefits to local companies and community alike. 1) Cost is minimized, since all the Rabbis are local. 2) Communication is easy and often several rabbis are available. 3) Familiarity with the territory is assured, in terms of geography, culture and economics. 4) Since Northern California is one of the largest food producing and food innovating areas in the world, the VAAD often sees things first.
The Rabbinic Administrator of the VAAD is Rabbi Levy Zirkind, Executive Director of Chabad of Fresno.He has been immersed in issues of kosher supervision for the last twelve years, and is respected nationally for his work by the OU, OK, Star-K, and other national kosher supervision agencies. He received rabbinical ordination from Tomchei Tmimmim Lubavitch, in New York City, and is a member of Agudas Harabbonim of the USA and Canada.
The Supervision Coordinator, Rabbi Ben-Tzion Welton, one of the founders of the VAAD has worked for several of the national kosher supervision agencies for over 16 years. (OU, OK, KOF-K, KSA, etc) He has a Master's Degree in Public Administration from City College of New York and Rabbinical ordination from Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary, in Monsey, New York.
The VAAD is listed among major kosher information bureaus on the Web, in additon to having its own website.