Jerusalem restaurants sue over rabbis’ kosher certification rules

JERUSALEM — Five Jerusalem restaurant owners have filed suit against the city’s Chief Rabbinate, saying the rules for kosher certification … Continued

JERUSALEM — Five Jerusalem restaurant owners have filed suit against the city’s Chief Rabbinate, saying the rules for kosher certification are expensive, onerous and inconsistent.

The lawsuit represents the latest legal challenge against what many Israelis say is an increasingly coercive ultra-Orthodox religious establishment.

The restaurants are among almost a dozen establishments that recently severed their ties with the Rabbinate’s kosher supervisors, who are charged with ensuring that the food being prepared meets strict Jewish dietary laws.

The Rabbinate is funded by the Israeli government and has sole authority over marriage, divorce and just about everything else related to the practice of Judaism.

“The restaurant owners are definitely on the front line,” Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria told the Times of Israel, “and as pioneers in this battle they are exposed to the risks.”

The restaurateurs decided to go to court after the Rabbinate issued fines of between $270 and $525 for marketing themselves as kosher without the rabbis’ approval. Some restaurant owners have hired private kosher inspectors.

To be considered kosher, an Israeli restaurant must prominently display its certification. The restaurants, not the Rabbinate, pay the supervisors for their services.

In their suit, which is being funded by a social action organization, the owners say the Rabbinate operates as a monopoly. A Rabbinate spokesman did not respond to phone calls.

The restaurant owners said they discontinued the supervisors’ services for a variety of reasons. “The problem is, the supervisor was almost never here,” said Yehonatan Vadai, owner of the Carousela restaurant, who was fined $270 for lacking the official kosher certification.

Modern-Orthodox Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, who is spearheading a training program for volunteer kosher supervisors, said the Rabbinate’s oversight of its supervisors is inconsistent.

“Owners complain (the supervisors) come very seldom,” he said. “Some complain they show up only for their paycheck.”

Restaurateurs also complained that supervisors demand unreasonably high kosher standards.

To ensure that fresh produce contains no insects, which would render it non-kosher, “they require us to purchase lettuce and other vegetables from specific vendors who use strong pesticides,” Vadai said. “It’s just not necessary. I can’t wash off the pesticide and I won’t serve them to my customers.”

The supervisors appear to be acting on their own, Vadai said, since Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar recently announced that “insects can be removed by washing, the way it has been done for generations.”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.


    Just remember, Israel is NOT a theocracy.

Read More Articles

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

Why I Want to Be Culturally Evangelical

I’ve lost my faith. Do I have to lose my heritage, too?

What Is a Saint?

How the diversity of saintly lives reveals multiple paths toward God.

An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.