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Rabbi Osher Yaakov Westheim, renowned British authority on kosher laws, dies of coronavirus

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Rabbi Osher Yaakov Westheim was considered “a towering figure” in the United Kingdom city of Manchester and a world-respected authority on kosher food laws.

On upholding kashrut regulations he was demanding: Westheim believed that non-Jews should not be involved in the manufacture of kosher products and demanded that Jewish producers be present at all times during production, according to the Jewish Chronicle of London.

Westheim, among the most senior rabbis in Manchester, died Thursday of the coronavirus, the newspaper reported. He was 71.

Westheim headed the Kashrut Department of the Manchester Beth Din, or rabbinical court, until 2004 and would conduct surprise inspections at sites under his supervision around Europe.

He left the court that year to form the Badatz Igud Harabbonim, whose label was seen as demanding even stricter compliance than the standard upheld by the other rabbis of Manchester, which is home to the United Kingdom’s second-largest Jewish community.

Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag, a Jewish community leader from Manchester, eulogized Westheim as “a towering figure” because of “the high standards that he represented and upheld.”

Westheim granted kosher certifications to a number of Kellogg’s products, among other leading brands.

In 1995, he established his own yeshiva, Yeshivas Ezras Torah.

He was ordained in 1971 and along with English spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, German and French.

Westheim was born in Gateshead, in northern England, and studied at the Gateshead Yeshiva and Yeshivat Beer Yaakov in Israel.

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