Rabbi sues Manischewitz, saying it let kosher standards slip

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NEW YORK (AP) — A rabbi is accusing kosher foods giant Manischewitz of pushing him out as their longtime inspector of holiday matzos after he complained that the company wasn't sticking to strict Jewish religious practices.

Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz filed a lawsuit against the Newark, New Jersey, company on Wednesday, just days ahead of Passover. It seeks millions of dollars in compensation for emotional distress and damage to his reputation.

Horowitz was the chief supervising rabbi at The Manischewitz Company.

He worked for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which supplies inspectors to independently ensure that kosher standards are kept at food producers.

The union is also named in the lawsuit, filed in New York City.

The Orthodox Union said in a statement that the suit is "entirely without merit." It said that Manischewitz meets the highest kosher standards.

Manischewitz officials had no immediate comment.

For 20 years on the Manischewitz production line, Horowitz' work included feeling the temperature of the sheets of unbaked matzo before they enter a massive oven.

He claims the company has relaxed its strict guidelines for keeping food kosher and excluded him from properly observing production.

The "Orthodox Union has violated the public trust by failing and refusing to abide by its established guidelines for certifying certain products manufactured by Manischewitz as Kosher," the suit says.

In the court complaint, the rabbi says he got "the clear, but unstated, message" that to keep his job "he should do everything in his power to keep Manischewitz happy, even if this meant compromising his personal religious principles."

In 2014, Manischewitz was purchased by a unit of the private equity firm Bain Capital.

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