McDonald's and kashrut? Only in Israel, one might think. But an Illinois court ruled May 20 that the world's most ubiquitous burger joint must sink $1 million into education about Judaism's kosher laws.
The money is part of $10 million that McDonald's must divide among a variety of plaintiffs after it was found that french fries and hash browns advertised as vegetarian in fact contained some beef flavoring.
The ruling by the Cook County circuit court ended a lawsuit that cobbled together class-action suits by plaintiffs around the country.
Ultimately, $6 million was assigned to vegetarian groups, $2 million to Hindu and Sikh organizations, $1 million to children's charities and $1 million to Jewish groups.
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, which will receive $300,000 in the settlement, will use the money for an educational program, "You Are What You Eat: A Kashrut Conversation," and to supply students with kosher recipes.
Four Jewish groups were also selected to divide the $1 million: Jewish Community Centers Association will receive $200,000 to develop curricula about kosher food laws and practices; Orthodox Union will receive $150,000 for education about kosher observances and educating kosher food supervisors; Star-K/Torah.org will receive $300,000 to expand its Web site to offer an interactive course for schools, hospitals, synagogues and others on creating and maintaining a kosher kitchen; and CLAL --National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership will get $50,000 to host conferences on kashrut and disseminate the resulting ideas.
Jeff Rubin, director of communications for Hillel, compared the case to the Chanukah miracle.
"It's another positive thing that came out of hot oil," he said. "This will help us to promote an understanding of kashrut on college campuses around the world."