A Brooklyn bris without a lox plate is like Coney Island without the ocean.
Thus Brooklyn businesses that specialize in serving lox to Orthodox Jews bristled at the notion that smoked salmon, a.k.a. lox, is not kosher.
The issue erupted earlier this week when a small sect of Orthodox Jews in upstate New York claimed the fish is not kosher because it often contains parasitic worms.
However, several sources in the fish business say the salt in the smoking process kills all the parasites.
“If the OU (Orthodox Union) says it’s not a problem, that’s good enough for me,” said Gershon Schindler, proprietor of Cheese D Lox, 5220 New Utrecht Avenue, which caters a good portion of brises (circumcision ceremonies) for Orthodox Jews in the borough.
Schindler said almost every bris gets fish platters that includes white fish fillets, nova lox and smoked sable (Black Cod).
“I’ve seen worms on sable, especially during the summer, but never on lox,” he said.
Schindler said if it is ever determined that lox is somehow unkosher, supervisors of kosher laws will probably figure out a way to further cleanse the fish, much in the way they did a few years ago when certain vegetables were problematic because worms and bugs are often found on the leaves.
Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the OU, the largest kosher certification agency in the world, said the organization does not take the threat of lox not being kosher seriously.
“We’ve looked into the situation and see no reason to change the kosher status of fish,” he said, adding that just because food may have a worm or bug on it doesn’t mean it’s not kosher.
“You just take it off and clean the food,” he said.
Marisa Sedotto, owner of The Gourmet Bagel Shop, 6220 Avenue U in Mill Basin, said lox remains a huge seller to both religious and non-religious people in the neighborhood.
“I spoke to kosher fish companies and they said the article is laughable. It’s unheard of to have worms in lox. These are fish specialists. One guy has been smoking fish for 50 years and he’s never seen anything like a parasite. This is only one percent of orthodox rabbis saying this,” she said.
Richard Schiff, general manager Acme Smoked Fish, 30 Gem Street, in Greenpoint and one of the area’s largest smoked fish manufacturers, said he also believes the issue is much ado about nothing.
“We are under supervision of the Kof-K, one of the most respected authorities on kosher laws in the country. All of the mainstream rabbis and organizations that deal with the laws say it’s kosher,” Schiff said, adding it’s only a small group of people causing all the uproar.