Orthodox Union set to announce KOAOA merger
New York…The near 100 year-old Kosher Overseers Associates of America (Half-Moon-K symbol) has ceased to exist and is already a part of the Orthodox Union (OU). A spokesman for the Orthodox Union confirmed the widely reported rumors about the merger, including a report on at least one kashrus website, but he said that a formal announcement would be made in the coming weeks. Founded in 1910 by Rabbi Hyman Sharfman, the Los Angeles based KOAOA, had in recent years upgraded the level of its certification but in the end decided it was better to merge with the world’s largest certification agency. KOAOA was headed for many years by the founder’s son, the late Rabbi Harold I. Sharfman, a flamboyant and outspoken personality who had on occasion clashed with the kashrus establishment. His half-moon K symbol was challenged in the courts by the Brooklyn based OK Labs which charged copyright infringement, citing the “similarities” of the symbol. Rabbi Sharfman was a passionate defender of kashrus but his certification was never fully accepted by many mainstream kosher consumers. After his demise in 1998, the agency made a major effort to upgrade its certification and several kashrus authorities had even gone out on a limb with the improvements.
While the half-moon K symbol will continue to appear on many products, the Orthodox Union is planning to phase out the symbol and replace it with the Circle U. Kashrus sources say that any products with the half moon K symbol were already produced under widely accepted kashrus standards. Rabbi Dovid Jenkins, who was the manager of KOAOA kashrus operations, is now part of the OU kashrus team in its Manhattan headquarters. In an open letter in June 2007, Rabbi Jenkins and Rabbi Zushe Blech, the senior kashrus administrator, spoke of the upgraded standards for the KOAOA’s 580 certified companies representing 20,000 products. It was not clear how many companies and products will be affected by the merger.
ME and I have been telling people for a while that the Half Moon K's certification had improved and most products were considered reliable. A number of people simply refused to believe us. They weren't even willing to investigate on their own, just told us that 'everyone knows' that it is an unreliable certification. They got upset when we told them that was Lashon Harah. See this earlier post of mine as example of doing it right.