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In early March Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher and Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the COO were invited by the Jewish community to visit Spain. During their visit they met with community leaders and government officials. As a result one new Spanish company has applied for OU certification.

Rabbi Genack at entrance to OU Israel Center in Yerushalyim.

From Spain they made a pre-Pesach visit to Israel. During their three work days in Israel they met with a variety of rabbis, including the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.

In preparation for shmitta, the sabbatical year which beings after Rosh Hashana, they met with Shimon Hazut, a farmer with land in Moshav Gimzo about 6 miles southeast of Ben Gurion Airport.

Left: Shimon Hazut (back to the camera) discusses preparations for shmitta with Rabbis Elefant, Genack, Turnauer and Krakowski. Rabbis Turnauer and Krakowski represent OU Kashrut in Israel.
Right: Hazut took the rabbis on a tour of his vineyards and orchards. He explained the effect of not being able to prune or thin his grapes during shmitta.

Later in the day they visited Matzot Carmel, a matza factory in Petach Tikva near Bnei Berak that bakes matza all year and bakes Kosher for Pesach matza under OU supervision for three months before Pesach.

Left: Ya’acov Ludmir, owner of Matzot Carmel greets Rabbi Genack.
Right: Rabbis Genack, Krakowski and Elefant discuss the matza baking process with Rabbi Eliahu Ben-Moshe (left), an OU mashgiach.

Left: The process begins with a computerized clock that starts the 18-minute countdown. According to Halacha, the flour and water must be fully baked in 18 minutes in order not to become hametz.
Right: In the presence of a mashgiach the flour and water are mixed automatically. Then the mashgiach makes the appropriate bracha and takes challa from the dough.

As the matza comes out of the oven it is checked several times to make certain any underbaked or otherwise unacceptable matza is removed before it is wrapped and put in boxes to be shipped around the world.