In the 1940s and early 1950s kosher meat supply in Toronto was unregulated and chaotic, frustrating the local Jewish community. Rumours began to circulate of unscrupulous butchers passing off non kosher meat as kosher. The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) was asked to help establish an effective and orderly supervisory regime for kosher meat in Toronto. In 1950, an Orthodox Division within Congress was established with 10 synagogue presidents appointed to serve on the Executive Committee with Mr. Meyer Gasner serving as Chairman. The Committee met in November 1952 and formally established the Kashruth Committee.
The mandate of the Kashruth Committee would include:
a) Consolidation of all existing forms of supervision under the auspices of the Kashruth Committee; and
b) The institution of an intensified public relations program to increase awareness and observance of the laws of kashrut.
During the November 1952 meeting the newly appointed Kashruth Committee was authorized to certify food products as kosher. In November 1953 the Kashruth Committee met and authorized the Chairman to invite rabbis to be on the Vaad Hakashruth.
In 1954, the name “Vaad Hakashruth of the Canadian Jewish Congress of the Central Region” was adopted. The membership consisted of 12 pulpit rabbis. The Rabbinical Council of the Vaad Hakashruth was made up of Rabbi G. Felder, Rabbi B. Rosensweig, Rabbi D. Schochet, and Rabbi W. Wurzburger, and had full authority over matters of halacha with respect to kashrut. Upon the recommendation of Rabbi Wurzburger, Rabbi Felder was appointed chairman — by acclamation and became the organization’s driving force.
Mr. Gasner became Chairman of the lay committee and Rabbi Nachman Shemen was engaged to run the department.
In June 1956 the name that was adopted by the Rabbinic Body was “Council of Orthodox Rabbis” affiliated with the Canadian Jewish Congress. This is the source for the Kashruth Council of Canada’s “COR” name and logo.
The parties agreed that Congress would undertake the administrative responsibilities including the guardianship over the kosher seals, while determination of all matters of religious law would be determined by the Rabbinical Vaad Hakashruth.
Prior to COR’s establishment , there had been problems with many butchers displaying unregulated signs saying “kosher”. Now, with the establishment of COR, there was one authority in Toronto, instead of a variety of unaffiliated rabbis, shochtim, and wholesalers. These individuals were now united under one banner to serve the common good and to ensure a high standard of kashrut in Toronto. By 1958, there were seventeen butcher shops under COR supervision.
During COR’s early years, the organization had a number of successes, perhaps chief amongst them was lobbying then Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker to have Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita) approved by the government of Canada and protected by law.
For many years, Rabbi Gedalia Felder was COR’s leader as chairman of the RVH, while Rabbi Y. Kerzner, was vice-chairman, and later, chairman of the RVH. Rabbi Mordechai Levin joined COR’s staff in 1984 to assist Rabbi Shemen in the administration of the department.
Meanwhile, in 1975, the Canadian Jewish Congress of Toronto was restructured to form the Toronto Jewish Congress which was later restructured again to form UJA Federation.
In July 2000, the Orthodox Division of Federation (COR) was incorporated as a legal non-profit entity and became the Kashruth Council of Canada under the chairmanship of Marvin Sigler.
In 2006, Rabbi Yacov Felder, son of Rabbi Gedalia Felder, took on the position of vice chairman of the RVH and is now the acting Chairman. Mr. Moshe Sigler serves as the chairman of the lay Board of Directors. Rabbi Dovid Rosen serves as Director of Industrial Kosher Operations, Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Tsvi Heber acts as Director of Community Kosher Operations, Jay Spitzer serves as Director of Operations and Richard Rabkin is the Managing Director.
COR is now Canada’s largest kosher agency, certifying over approximately 70,000 products at 1000 facilities across Canada and internationally.