A conversation with Roger Horowitz, author of Kosher USA


We have written about the book Kosher USA previously. Author, Roger Horowitz follows the fascinating historical journey of kosher food through the modern industrial food system. The book recounts the journey of iconic products such as Coca-Cola and the controversial entry of Jell-O into the kosher conversation. The author shares the details of the “contentious debates among rabbis over the incorporation of modern science into Jewish law”. Roger Horowitz was in Atlanta on January 25 presenting a book talk at Congregation Shearith Israel, former pulpit of Rabbi Tobias Geffen who was instrumental in “kosherizing” Coke. We had an opportunity to interview Roger by phone and we present some highlights:

Q. How have your readers responded to the book? How have the kosher agencies responded?
Readers seem to love the subject matter, and the interaction has led to talks and invitations to shuls and libraries across the country. David Sugarman, CEO of Manischewitz attended a Brooklyn talk, which led to a tour of the New Jersey factory. The kosher agencies have not responded as of yet. 

Q. What types of questions are you asked?
Many people never really understood the historical background of kosher laws and labels, such as how hechshers (kosher labels) end up on packages…. Horowitz is impressed with the seriousness of reader questions.

Q. What are the personal ramifications of publishing the book? How has the book changed your life? 
He has embraced his Jewishness. The process of writing and publishing the book made him feel a lot more Jewish, He better understands the depth of tradition and intellect, and feels a greater connection to his grandparents.

Q. What do you see in the kosher future?
It is clear that the place of kosher in modern history looks secure. At least 30-40% of all new products are kosher; He sees stability and continuity. Since so many ingredients (70-90% ) are available as kosher – it is easy for companies to become kosher. Kosher food is not just for the observant. Jewish companies are also expanding and diversifying in several niches including organic, gluten free. According to Roger, at Passover 90% of Jews celebrate in some form.

Q. What’s next? Is there another book on the horizon?
He is currently traveling and giving talks about Kosher USA. But, with the right idea, yes, another book will be planned.
Kosher USA is available on Amazon.com


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