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Vaad Ha’ir is a kosher certification agency based in Winnipeg.
Prior to 1946 a number of attempts were made to develop a kosher certification organization for butchers in Western Canada. Without such an organization each butcher made his own arrangements with a local rabbi. A team of American rabbis was brought in to Winnipeg to observe the situation and make recommendations. A committee of rabbis, members of the Jewish Welfare Fund, the Canadian Jewish Congress and other members of the community used these recommendations to create a new organization.
The Vaad Ha’ir began operations in 1946. The organization’s board and committees were made up of rabbis, butchers, members of the Winnipeg Jewish Fund and the Canadian Jewish Congress. The Finance Committee was responsible for paying kosher supervisors and setting fees charged to butchers. Initially, butchers were the only businesses that were certified. Kosher products were certified with the “Winnipeg Kosher” (WK) designation.
In 1954 Vaad Ha’ir began overseeing all Jewish divorces and conversions in Western Canada. By the 1970s they also started overseeing restaurants, bakeries and caterers.
In the 1970s the agency’s constitution was rewritten and all Winnipeg synagogues had representations on the board.
In 2008 Orthodox Union, a New York-based organization, took over kosher certifications by the organization. Prior to this, many Orthodox Jews did not recognize the Winnipeg Kosher certification. The “Winnipeg Kosher” label was replaced by “Western Kosher.” This transfer was overseen by a committee of rabbis and other members of the community.
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Levine, Allan. Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Heartland, 2009.
Stern, M.S. (Editor). The Nathan Lockshin Memorial Journal: On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Vaad Ha’ir. Winnipeg: Vaad Ha’ir, 1982.