Founded in 1984 by Rabbi Aron Lieberman and Rabbi Edward Davis, the Orthodox Rabbinical Board of Broward and Palm Beach Counties sought to fill a void in reliable kashrus standards in Southeastern Florida. Kezreh Butcher of Hallandale, the first establishment certified kosher by the ORB, brought in a limited amount of pre-kashered meat from a then-fledging company called Agriprocessors. The ORB supervised the correct shipping, kashering, storage and labeling of other fresh meat that was shipped in from New York.
Soon the “kosher style” stores and caterers started asking for reliable kosher certification. The ORB hired Rabbi Berel Simpser as its kashrus administrator and instituted a policy, still in effect to this day, of not soliciting kosher business. Kosher certification was – and continues to be - intended as a community service, to enable a reliable local rabbinical authority to effect and maintain standards that the entire community would trust.
In 1989 Rabbi Kenny Brander organized the South Palm Beach Vaad with the encouragement and blessing of the ORB. Rabbi Brander hired Rabbi Pesach Weitz as the kashrus administrator. In 1998 the South Palm Beach Vaad joined together with the Orthodox Rabbinical Board to create a single, unified kashrus agency that would service the entire Southeastern Florida Jewish community.
The ORB is a non-profit agency. (The administrators receive a salary, and the executive branch members receive no compensation for their services.) South Florida’s economy relies significantly upon tourists, vacationers, and “snowbirds.” Heavily Jewish areas, and thus kosher interest, can be found throughout this expansive area. The organization has therefore grown into one of the largest regional hashgachos in the country, with well over 100 facilities, a large pool of mashgichim, and close to 1000 square miles of territory to supervise.
Twenty-first century kashrus has become far more intense than it used to be. Because of the increased complexity of policies and procedures, a greater need for professionalism, and the constant flow (both in and out) of mashgichim, the ORB began to develop a comprehensive mashgiach training program in 2007. Then, in conjunction with Kosher Miami, it established a two-week, intensive mashgiach training program in 2009 that combines the classroom teaching of basic halachic knowledge with hands-on practica and mentoring with veteran mashgichim. The two organizations work together closely and share common standards for hiring mashgichim and checking fruits and vegetables for insects.
The ORB has an active beis din that helps to adjudicate legal issues that are brought before it. It periodically brings notable speakers to Southeastern Florida and hopes to increase its involvement in disseminating Torah knowledge to the Southeastern Florida Jewish community.
Looking forward, the ORB envisions an expanding community role in which it can foster and further community awareness and practice of kashrus, laying of tefillin, affixing and checking of mezuzos, and checking for shatnez. The ORB hopes to expand its role in providing support services to its constituent pulpit rabbis. Also on the horizon might be a periodic magazine enumerating services provided by the ORB, providing an overview of Jewish life in Southeastern Florida, and offering explanations of the ORB’s policies regarding kashrus, gittin, beis din, bris milah, and safrus, describing issues to be aware of as holidays approach, and enumerating the challenges of providing kosher supervision to hotels, cruises, and large caterers.