NorCal kosher certification agency has a new name: Sunrise Kosher

The Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California is now Sunrise Kosher.

The new name doesn’t signify any change in the organization’s function, which is giving kosher certification to commercial and retail food establishments and caterers throughout California and beyond.

In fact, said Rabbi Ben-Tzion Welton, Sunrise’s Berkeley-based CEO, it’s not even a name change so much as a case of bringing the organization’s official name in line with its longtime logo (pictured), which it adopted in 1997, a year after the vaad, or council of rabbis, was founded.

“Our logo has been around a long time, but no one knew what it was — a Northern California sunrise,” he said.

Some of the younger staff, including Welton’s 29-year-old son, Levy, felt that using that peppy logo to brand the agency would be a smart move. The name change was formalized about a year ago, Welton says, but only went public this past summer when the new website was launched at

When those in the organization began thinking of a new name, the first idea they came up with was Sun Kosher. But as Welton pointed out, the initials would have spelled “sunk” — not really the upbeat message they were after.

“We also toyed with the idea of ‘Solar Kosher,’ but that’s kind of misleading,” he added.

The vaad’s first logo, in 1996, depicted the Golden Gate Bridge. It was replaced after a year with the sunrise because the bridge’s San Francisco focus “felt too limiting,” Welton said, for an agency that stretches the length of the state and into Oregon.

While few, if any, local kosher boards have made similar name changes, the four largest national kosher certifying agencies are all known by their logos: the OU (Orthodox Union), the O-K, the Star-K and the Kof-K.

So Sunrise Kosher is in good company, Welton pointed out.

“And we’re still the Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California,” he added. — sue fishkoff