New Line of Kosher-certified Women’s Clothing Hit the Market
Do you want to be 100% on God’s good side? Then do EVERYTHING kosher. kosher water (no microbes), kosher vegetables (not washed before Passover), kosher clothing (no shatnez), kosher digital camera (no video functionality), kosher stocking (opaque and seamed), and now… kosher women’s blouses.
The new women’s clothing to hit the market in Williamsburg and Borough Park are certified kosher by a committee consisting of representatives from three Brooklyn Hasidic communities: Satmar-Aaron, Bobov and Papa. The committee employs a special certification emblem consiting of a purple rose with the slogan “designed with you in mind” on an oval tag attached to the clothing.
R. Aaron Teitelbaum’s foray into this field started last Passover during his annual Passover sermon to his Williamsburg followers at the Hooper Street Synagogue. He threatened to expel children whose parents use a computer at home and pleaded with his congregants to jettison their blackberries. Then, citing his great uncle R. Joel Teitelbaum’s incessant concern with modesty in women’s clothing he announced the formation of a committee to certify clothing for next year’s season.
Rabbi Teitelbaum may have been driven by competition against his brother R. Zalman who is generally considered a greater zealot. Not to be outdone by his younger brother, he may have thereby made a strong statement demonstrating to the world that he is just as frum (observant), and then some.
“Whoever wants to make money, let him know that he must sell only clothing that has been certified kosher”, said R. Teitelbaum. “If there will be demand it will be successful.”
There are unsubstantiated reports that the first 20,000 kosher-certified garments were sold out quickly in recent weeks after the community eagerly and fervently adopted the new certification standard as de rigeur for acceptable women’s garb. It is claimed that a new production cycle is now planned for the post-shavuot, pre-summer shopping season to meet the avid consumer demand.
These reports, however, may be sheer hype originating with the propaganda machine run by Aaron and his court. Additionally, it is likely that the Zallies will find some fault in this initiative and reject the whole thing outright since it’s a foe initiative, which may in turn undermine the long-term viability of the new product lines.
Some scholars and researchers of recent Hasidic economic trends have noted a recent overarching phenomenon of increasingly greater encroachment of the religious sphere into the previously purely economic sphere and suggest that it is spurred by a force larger than mere religious fervor. In many ways, the Hasidic establishment is able to retain their grip on its own market by portraying anything not manufactured by the community as religiously not cutting the mustard for consumption.
Furthermore, by firmly positioning the religious bar higher than any other Jewish community in America they are able to market their products to the entirety of American Jewry, even to those with a tenuous regard for religious adherence. Satmars may not be willing to buy Mayonnaise with an OU Kashrut certificate but a Modern Orthodox person would –if anything prefer to– buy mayonnaise manufactured by the Satmars and bearing the familiar “CRC” mark and the accompnying Hebrew seal, out of a subtle subconscious conviction that the CRC is even more kosher than OU, thus inadvertently betraying their own kind economically.