The world of kashrus supervision suffered a painful loss with the sudden petirah of Rabbi Dovid Steigman, z”l, a senior coordinator for the OK. He is remembered for his expertise as well as his unique ability to manage the diverse obstacles that he encountered in his work overseeing kashrus at food companies around the world. He was 67 years old.
Rabbi Steigman was on a trip to Italy to inspect operations at several facilities. When a cheese factory called that he had not arrived on Wednesday morning, staff at the hotel where he was staying discovered that he had suddenly been niftar.
“It’s a tremendous loss for the whole world of kashrus, we’re all in complete shock,” Rabbi Chaim Fogelman, director of Marketing and Education for OK told Hamodia. “He was a well-respected expert in kashrus, and above all was known for the aura of calmness that he radiated and his ability to connect to all sorts of people, even during the most challenging of situations.”
Rabbi Steigman spent his early years in London and went on to study in Chabad yeshivos in Brunoy, France, as well as in Kfar Chabad and Yeshivas Toras Emes in Yerusalayim. While still a bachur, he studied safrus, which he practiced for several years.
In 1969 he married Shulamit Fucs and settled in Eretz Yisrael in the city of Lod. Shortly afterwards, Rabbi Steigman made his initial foray into the hashgachah world working for the London Beis Din. Additionally, he learned shechitah, practicing for many large companies.
The family would eventually relocate to the United States, living in Crown Heights and later moving to Boro Park. In 1988 Rabbi Steigman began his association with OK while working as a shochet in the Boston area. He went on to work as a mashgiach, eventually becoming one of its senior coordinators, overseeing the production of kosher goods by some of the largest companies under the OK including Kraft, Snapple and Danisco.
High-level kashrus work requires not only a clear knowledge of the halachos involved, but a thorough familiarity with the intricacies of the production process and interpersonal skills in dealing with a wide variety of people involved — from executives to machinery operators and everyone in between. Rabbi Steigman was celebrated for his excellence in all three. He was often consulted for his expertise in the complexities of meat production as well as the kashrus issues connected with high-end alcoholic beverages.
The decisions of kashrus supervisors, particularly in the era of mass production, often deal with a complex set of halachic concerns as well as the potential loss of large amounts of money for companies. Rabbi Steigman was consistently praised by those who worked with him in all capacities for his unique ability to ensure that the standards promised by his hashgachah were being delivered, while putting others at ease and diffusing tensions.
“He had mesirus nefesh for kashrus, no matter what the personal cost,” said Rabbi Fogelman. “Rabbi Steigman worked at OK Kosher for 30 years and was respected and loved by all who knew him and had the honor of having him as a colleague, both kashrus professionals and employees of certified companies. The loss of Rabbi Steigman leaves an unfillable void at OK Kosher.”
He is survived by his wife, shetichyeh, as well as by several children and grandchildren.
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