Renowned Manchester kashrut authority, Rabbi Osher Westheim, dies of virus at 71

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Renowned Manchester kashrut authority, Rabbi Osher Westheim, dies of virus at 71

Gateshead-educated Jewish leader, 71, was heralded as a ‘towering figure’ in the field of kosher food law

Rabbi Osher Yaakov Westheim was considered “a towering figure” in Manchester and a world-respected authority on kosher food laws.

On upholding kashrut regulations he was demanding: Westheim believed that non-Jews should not be involved in the manufacture of kosher products and demanded that Jewish producers be present at all times during production, according to the Jewish Chronicle of London.

Westheim, among the most senior rabbis in Manchester, died Thursday of the coronavirus, the newspaper reported. He was 71.

Westheim headed the Kashrut Department of the Manchester Beth Din, or rabbinical court, until 2004 and would conduct surprise inspections at sites under his supervision around Europe.

He left the court that year to form the Badatz Igud Harabbonim, whose label was seen as demanding even stricter compliance than the standard upheld by the other rabbis of Manchester,  home to the UK’s second-largest Jewish community.

Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, a Jewish community leader from Manchester, eulogised Westheim as “a towering figure” because of “the high standards that he represented and upheld.”

Westheim granted kosher certifications to a number of Kellogg’s products, among other leading brands.

In 1995, he established his own yeshiva, Yeshivas Ezras Torah.

He was ordained in 1971 and along with English spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, German and French.

Westheim was born in Gateshead and studied at the Gateshead Yeshiva and Yeshivat Beer Yaakov in Israel.

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