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Kosher restaurant seeks new certification
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Kosher restaurant seeks new certification

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

Fumio Grill and Sushi closed May 30.
Fumio Grill and Sushi closed May 30.

Fumio, the kosher sushi restaurant and steakhouse in Livingston that closed May 30, says it will reopen as soon as it finds kosher supervision in keeping with plans to serve a wider geographic area.

Owner Kevin Lipka said he hoped to secure kashrut oversight quickly so the restaurant could reopen for business as soon as possible. Following an announcement last month by the Vaad Harabonim of MetroWest that it had ended its “kosher certification relationship” with Fumio, Lipka said he had been in talks with the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush.

“The local Vaad dropped us and we have no hashgacha right now,” confirmed Lipka, using the Hebrew word for kosher certification, in a telephone conversation with NJJN on June 6. 

Lipka said he had been seeking kashrut supervision from a more widely recognized organization, so that he could expand beyond the immediate area. He added that he was in the midst of talks with the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush, which is approved on the directory of acceptable kashrut organizations compiled by the Chicago Rabbinic Council and is a broadly accepted list.

The Vaad Harabonim of MetroWest, which has supervised the business from its opening as a kosher restaurant in 2008 through the sale to current owner Lipka two years ago, issued a statement on May 30. It announced “its kosher certification relationship with Fumio Grill and Sushi located at 21 E. Northfield Road in Livingston, and its associated entities ‘Your Bite of Heaven’ as well as ‘Feinschmecker’ caterers and products, will end at the close of business today, May 30, 2014.” No reasons were given in the announcement.

Lipka, a retired dentist from Livingston, said he attends a variety of local synagogues, including Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston, B’nai Shalom in West Orange, and Ahavath Torah in Short Hills. 

Representing the MetroWest Vaad, Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler declined to comment, stating, “The Vaad does not comment on or discuss its relationships with vendors that have or have had its certification.”

The Vaad of Flatbush did not respond to NJJN’s request for a comment before press time.

Local vaads, or rabbinic councils, are nonprofits usually comprised of local Orthodox rabbis, and supervise local kosher establishments with the implied consent of a community’s kosher-keeping population. National or non-local certification agencies are options for local establishments that either opt out of a local vaad’s supervision or do not meet its standards. 

In addition to food supplies and preparation, local vaads can have different standards as to who may act as an on-site mashgiach, or kashrut supervisor; whether owners can serve as supervisors or even hold keys to their restaurants or refrigerators; and when an establishment may open or close in relation to Shabbat and Jewish holidays. 

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