"Kosher" Certification of a Different Kind

An Israeli social justice movement has established a certificate to award restaurants for “kosher” treatment of employees and the disabled.

Arutz-7 Staff,

An Israeli social justice movement has established a certification system to award restaurants for “kosher” treatment of employees and the disabled.

Bema’aglei Tzedek, a Jerusalem based non-profit organization, has established a system for alerting consumers to positive employment practices and accessibility for the disabled through a system resembling that with which Kosher certification is displayed.

Called the Social Seal (Tav Chevrati in Hebrew), the certificate is now being prominently displayed in over 300 Israeli eateries from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and various other locales. It was introduced by Bema’aglei Tzedek activists to combat what the organization’s director Asaf Banner calls “an all-too-often ignored, yet deeply troubling aspect of Israeli society.”

Banner, who was among the organization’s founders in 2004, says, “The way that tens of thousands of workers all over Israel are being treated - without regard to their most basic human rights - was a situation that demanded to be addressed. We saw that the social seal was a great way of bringing attention to this issue.” 

While the campaign began locally in Jerusalem with organization representatives using the seal as a means to promote the good labor practices of shop owners, it has quickly spread across the country.

Roee Zisman, who manages the popular Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Café on Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem, believes that the seal is something many of his customers greatly value, as well as acting as a motivating factor for employers to improve worker conditions. “The Social Seal is very important in our relationship with our workers,” says Zisman. “I hear many people coming in and asking about it and we feel that there is a large clientele that comes to eat with us because of it.”

In order for an eatery to receive the seal, representatives of the organization will visit the restaurant and observe overall conditions as well as speak with the workers.  According to Banner, several seals have been revoked after it was reported that workers’ rights were being repeatedly violated. Violations include cases where workers are being denied breaks or being paid below the legal minimum wage or where the restaurant is lacking appropriate access for the handicapped. 

On Tuesday, July 3, Bema’aglei Tzedek held a conference at Jerusalem’s Rose Garden across from the Knesset entitled “Fighting the Exploitation of Custodial Workers.” 

The conference in the Rose Garden

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, addressed the conference, which attracted over 1,000 people. He said that despite often being pushed to the side of the social agenda, workers rights is something which is deeply entrenched in Jewish values, as well as the nation of Israel’s retention of the Land of Israel. “The Torah teaches again and again that our ability to stay on this holy soil of Israel depends on our being a holy people specifically in the realm of human relations,” he said. “This is including those between employer and employee.”