PHILADELPHIA — Every few minutes, the endless chain of poultry moving through Empire Kosher in Juniata County comes to a halt so a rabbi can inspect the knife he uses to cut clean through chicken necks.
The ritual blade, known as a chalef, must be kept impossibly sharp, so the rabbi runs a fingernail over its edge to check for nicks. Then he sharpens the tool once more, and the slaughtering at the nation’s largest kosher poultry supplier continues.
“There cannot be any imperfections,” Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division, said of the blade.
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