The confusion of Amish or Mennonites for ḥasidic Jews, and vice versa, is the subject of numerous jokes and anecdotes. But in real life, the two groups have found a common cause: Orthodox Jews who adhere to the strictest standards of kashrut seek only to drink milk that has remained under careful Jewish supervision from the moment it comes forth from the cow’s udder (known as ḥalav Yisra’el); the farming practices of the Amish happen to be particularly well-suited to producing such milk. Mike Andrelczyk describes the resulting cooperation, now the subject of research by the anthropologist Rachel Feldman:
Feldman observed an uptick in Orthodox Jewish tourism in and around Lancaster County, including trips to Hersheypark, which offers kosher food and holds a day of kosher festivities in September, and visits to dairy farms. The increased tourism led to collaborations between the Amish and Orthodox Jews to produce kosher dairy products.
The kosher milk operations range from large dairies such as Kreider Farms in Manheim, [Pennsylvania] to what Feldman describes as a small-scale “informal grassroots economy” occurring among Amish and Old Order Mennonite dairy farmers producing small batches of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk products for Orthodox Jewish communities coming in from areas like New York City.
Kreider Farms produces a line of kosher dairy products and is the sole provider to the Pride of the Farm—a nonprofit distributor of ḥalav Yisra’el milk and dairy products. “The fresh milk is immediately transported in dedicated tanker trucks to the processing plant, which is a short distance from the milking parlor. The self-contained operation lends itself perfectly to the meticulous supervision required for Cholov Yisroel certification,” Hope Graby, a spokesperson for Kreider Farms wrote in an email. . . . “A rabbi lives on the farm and observes the milk from the time of milking until it is sealed in a container.”
More about: American Jewry, Farming, Haredim, Jewish-Christian relations, Kashrut, Orthodoxy