Kashrus Mashgiach Held for Ransom, Now Free

A kashrus mashgiach, working in an Asian third world country on behalf of the SKS (Shatz Kosher Services) Mehadrin Kashrus, was recently kidnapped by unknown entities claiming affiliation with IS and was only released after a steep ransom was paid.

The mashgiach was in his hotel room in one of the country’s remote regions. Minutes after locked his room and fell asleep, he awoke to the sound of hammering on the door.

Within seconds, the door burst open and into the room marched several thugs dressed in the uniform of the local police, demanding that he accompany them. At the police station it was made clear to him that if his family did not pay a ransom for his release, he would be passed on to IS terrorists.

The mashgiach said they told him: “We know that Jews have money. We will not let you go, even if you beg, unless you give us the money,” and then named an enormous sum to be handed over within a few days.

In desperation, the mashgiach turned to the local Jewish community, with whom he was in contact prior to his arrest. They raised the money and baruch Hashem, he was released.

Before being freed, the mashgiach was threatened that if he reported the incident they would continue to kidnap Jews and try to harm the local Jewish population. For this reason, we are not identifying the country or the mashgiach.

Chairman of SKS Mehadrin Kashrus, Rav David Moskowitz commented that this is an exceptional case. “This is not a regular occurrence that characterizes the daily routine of our staff, even in Muslim countries. It is worth noting that all our mashgichim traveling to this country are required to lock their door at night for fear of such cases.”

Since such scenarios do occasionally occur in third world countries, the mashgiachs are given advance preparation on how to handle them.  As Rav Moskowitz noted: “Security to the mashgiach is something that cannot be compromised. Of course, every mashigach needs siyata d’Shmaya every step of the way, and not just in matters of hashgachah.”