Keeping kosher: AYA students fill a need
Photo: Submitted by Mordechai Weiss
Daniel Goury, left, and Mordechai Weiss are both Akiba Yavneh Academy seniors who have been certified as mashgichim, kashrut supervisors, by Dallas Kosher.

By Deb Silverthorn

Kosher restaurants cannot go on without being supported by onsite mashgichim, kashrut supervisors. In Dallas, under the auspices of Dallas Kosher (DK), part of that local crew includes high school students Daniel Goury and Mordechai Weiss. While yet to receive their high school diplomas, the young men have been certified, qualified and educated to the standards of DK.

“These young men are both dedicated, caring and professional. This is not an easy position and it requires great maturity but for sure they both meet the criteria,” said Rabbi Sholey Klein, kashrut administrator at Dallas Kosher. “It is remarkable that high school students, who often take on a job to mow lawns or wash cars, would add such a role to their already hectic schedules but we are grateful they have.

“We are in need of more people to serve the community as mashgichim and we hope other students and adults — men and women who can qualify — will follow their lead,” said Rabbi Klein. “It is good and necessary to make money, but it is also a privilege to do the mitzvahs that come with this particular job.”

Daniel, the son of Heidi Itah and Ronnie and Maya Goury, is the youngest of seven children. He moved to Dallas two years ago from Southern California, where he attended Or Hachaim Academy and Valley Torah High School. Now, a senior at Akiba Yavneh Academy (AYA), he hopes to spend next year at a yeshiva in Israel. After that, he’d like to study business and become an entrepreneur.

Daniel, whose family davens at the Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas and who himself often enjoys spending Shabbat at Congregation Shaare Tefilla, follows his brother Orel as a mashgiach at Tokyo Bar in North Dallas. Before heading to Israel for a gap year, Orel suggested Daniel consider the position. He met with the rabbis and staff of Dallas Kosher, completed the online course supplied by the Kosher Institute of America (KIA) and began supporting the team at Tokyo Bar.

“I wanted a job, responsibility and to develop a work ethic. Because this work is so intensive and you really have to be cautious in almost every action, I know I have achieved that,” Daniel said. “You have to be passionate to do the work, but it is very interesting and I appreciate the respect that comes with my certification and dedication.”

Daniel added, “I appreciate how Rabbi Shawel and Rabbi Klein take every applicant seriously — even those in high school — and that they helped me complete the program. I had heard restaurant work was not easy but my bosses, and our customers at Tokyo Bar, are the best. It has been a great experience.”

A guard on AYA’s varsity basketball team, Daniel is a member of the school’s business and investment club. He and Oren Abramov are co-founders of a health club; Daniel hopes that will address physical care and help students train for physical health and provide opportunities for mental support as well.

Daniel’s classmate, Mordechai Weiss, has also followed his brothers into the role of mashgiach. Mordechai is the son of Drs. Simma and Shelley Weiss and the youngest brother of Yosef and Ephraim. Both his older brothers graduated from AYA, took gap years in Israel and are studying at Washington University in St. Louis. Mordechai aspires to follow what his brothers have done. He hopes to study in Israel and then earn a degree in business and computer science at Washington University.

Mordechai is an AYA Jewish High School Math league member; he was a founder of AYA’s entrepreneur club and a campus makerspace program.

Like Daniel, Mordechai passed the interviews with Dallas Kosher and was certified after taking the KIA course. He has worked at both Midtown Pizza and Whole Foods Market.

“Working as a mashgiach is a great learning experience and one I am honored to be able to do. I love people and I love food. I have learned how to conduct myself in the workplace,” said Mordechai.

Both young men are role models who show that teenagers too can support their Jewish community and live the commandments they learn at home and in school.

“Mordechai and Daniel stand out in setting exemplary standards for their peers by their deep engagement with Torah, their genuine appreciation of prayer and mitzvot and how they wholeheartedly embody Judaic values,” said Sara Block, director of high school Judaic studies at AYA. “Their remarkable leadership extends beyond the school as they play an important role in the wider community through their work ensuring kosher standards as mashgichim.”

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