Known for his surprise visits to food manufacturers under his kosher supervision, Rabbi Osher Yaakov Westheim gained international regard for his expertise in kashrut and other complex areas of Jewish law. He passed away on April 3 as a result of COVID-19.

Born in Gateshead, England, he studied in the Gateshead Talmudic Seminary and in Yeshiva Be’er Yaakov in Israel.

After returning to the the United Kingdom, Rabbi Westheim continued his studies in the Manchester Kollel, leading to his ordination by the world-class halachic authority Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss, author of the Minchas Yitzchak series of rabbinic responsa, as well as other senior rabbinic figures.

In 1976, he was appointed dayan on the Manchester Beit Din and head of its kosher supervision arm. He would go on to establish his own highly regarded certification, Badatz Igud Harabbonim.

For more than 30 years, he led the Aguda Beit Hamedrash congregation in Manchester and served as an address for rabbis around the world, answering the most difficult halachic queries.

Manchester Rabbi Jonathan Guttentag paid tribute to him in The Jewish Chronicle, saying: “He was a towering figure in the world of product kashrut, his name a brand and institution all of its own, deservedly because of the high standards that he represented and upheld.”

He was “an outstanding Torah scholar and posek [halachic decisor], he was a rabbi’s rabbi, consulted locally and internationally,” continued Rabbi Guttentag, “younger rabbis particularly valued his wisdom, his support and his guidance.”

He leaves behind his wife, son and daughters, in addition to many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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