(New York Jewish Week) — Last year, a company that advertised a Passover-friendly counter lining became a household name — but for the wrong reason.
Traditional Jewish law demands that homes be cleaned rigorously for Passover, and that surfaces used for cooking or bearing hot food be made kosher — which can be achieved for some countertops by scalding them with boiling water. Another method of making surfaces fit for Passover is, arguably, easier: covering them completely with material such as plastic or aluminum foil.
So Kosher Dekal, a company based in New Jersey, thought they had a winning product with temporary counter linings they began selling last year, designed to quickly and easily make a surface kosher for Passover with its sleek silver, black, gold and gray faux-marble coverings. But while the peel-and-stick design may have been easy to put on, customers were dismayed that the linings were hardly easy-off.
Last year, Kosher Dekal was promoted by Orthodox Jewish influencers and advertised itself as an “elegant and easy solution” for covering countertops during the holiday. But after Passover ended last year, dozens of customers left comments on the company’s Instagram page complaining about the sticky residue left by the product. The criticism of the company began circulating on the messaging platform WhatsApp.
In the aftermath, the company, citing a “mistake from a production line worker,” owned up to its gaffe and offered $140,000 in refunds to thousands of customers who were charged from $32 to $37 per roll. Then, with the refunds in hand and Passover firmly in the rearview mirror, things fell quiet.
That is, until earlier this month, when Kosher Dekal sent out a press release announcing its return, calling its product “new & improved.”
“After Pesach, the founders were determined to rework the formula and perfect the product,” the press release said. “The Dekal founders searched the globe to find a trustworthy factory.”
In a phone call with the New York Jewish Week, Davidi Crombie, who co-owns the company with his brother, Shraga, said that this year, Kosher Dekal partnered with Continental Manufacturing in Germany to make this year’s product. (Last year’s version was made in China.)
“We searched for a factory that specialized in that kind of product, that has this trustworthy history,” Crombie said. “We had sent people there to visit. They’ll deliver and it won’t be like last time.”
Crombie believes that this year is a course correction for Kosher Dekal, “if not financially, at least morally.”
“The need for the product was always there,” Crombie said. “We just screwed up on our first chance. There is no second chance to make a first impression, but we are working from the ground up to correct the experience for ourselves and for our customers.”
He added that the most important change the company has made is to the glue that sticks to the counter.
“The glue is what it’s all about,” Crombie said. “The glue is our secret formula. I am not an engineer to be able to describe it. We’ve also added new designs and different sizes.”
Crombie added that the company bought three years of advance product from the factory in China which all had to be tossed, though he declined to say how much that cost or how many rolls of material that included.
“Last year, my brother and I were sitting during Pesach, we were literally shivering,” Crombie said. “We were sitting on our computers. We were destroyed. This was the end. We couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Some people, at least, are giving Kosher Dekal a second chance. One such customer is Chanie Apfelbaum, who runs the popular Orthodox Instagram account “Busy In Brooklyn,” which has nearly 100,000 followers.
Apfelbaum told the New York Jewish Week that she tested this year’s product on three different surfaces at her house, leaving it on her countertops for 10 days and placing hot dishes on the coverings. “As an influencer, I was on the hook last year because I promoted it,” Apfelbaum said. “I definitely want to do my due diligence and make sure it’s all good.”
She posted an Instagram story on Monday in which she removed the new lining and said it was “smooth as a baby’s bottom.”
“There is no sticking, nothing,” Apfelbaum said on Instagram. “I’m impressed. There’s nothing on my counter whatsoever.”
And yet, Apfelbaum did not give the product her “official” Busy in Brooklyn stamp of approval because she has “PTSD from last year,” she said.
“Although I did want to give them a chance, and try it, and show you for myself that it does seem to be new and improved, and be completely non-stick,” she said. “I can see a difference. If you had a bad experience and you’re scared, I get it. But it seems to be really great.”
Apfelbaum told the New York Jewish Week that she gives the company credit for “owning up to what they did.”
“They refunded and apologized,” Apfelbaum said. “They could have just shut down, but they went back at it.”
Crombie said that he is expecting at least a 50% return rate, but won’t know for certain until next week — the days leading up to Passover is Kosher Dekal’s busiest time for sales. He added that the company is getting hundreds of returning customers — and that not everyone was displeased the first time around. In an email exchange that Crombie shared with the New York Jewish Week, one customer wrote that “contrary to all the bad publicity you received last year, I was very happy with my kosher Dekal last season, and am looking forward to using the new and improved product this year.”
In another email, a customer wrote that she had difficulties removing Kosher Dekal, but “did not feel right in asking for a refund” and used baking soda and water to remove the residue.
Some customers, however, still felt trepidation over last year’s product. “Some parts of my counter are still sticky today,” one customer wrote in an email to Kosher Dekal.
“It is exactly what I’m looking for but it was a nightmare last year,” another wrote. “The residue was impossible to remove. I still find sticky spots in my counters a year later.”
Crombie understands the hesitation.
“There are a lot of people, we understand, who would never buy it again,” he said. “But the people who do buy it, the people who tested it, are very happy about it. Thank God, the outcome is heartwarming.”
He added that Kosher Dekal has been giving discounts and free orders to many returning customers who have reached out. Dozens of customers, he claimed, sent their refunds back.
“We are excited because we know and are certain that this product is indeed the right formula,” he said. “I have it in my house, on glass, on wood, on the cabinet, I put it everywhere.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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