Daily Israel Report

Chief Rabbi to Knesset: Take Supreme Court Out of Kashrut

Chief Rabbi Amar asks the Knesset to limit the Supreme Court's ability to interfere in matters of Jewish Law.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/10/2009, 10:11 AM / Last Update: 12/10/2009, 11:03 AM

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Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar issued a letter this week to all Knesset Members, asking them to make it illegal for the Supreme Court to interfere with the Halachic (Jewish legal) considerations of the Chief Rabbinate in awarding or revoking kosher certifications pertaining to the Jewish dietary laws.

The letter was sent after the Supreme Court upheld its previous ruling negating the Rabbinate's revoking of the kosher certification of a restaurant owned by a Jesus-believing cult of Jews.  The Court thus rejected an appeal filed by the Attorney General and the Chief Rabbinate against the ruling.

The ruling by Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch stated at the time that Halachic standards measuring when one's personal kashrut claims may be believed are not part of the "hard core" of kashrut laws to which the State of Israel is obligated. "The "trustworthiness of a restaurant owner must be measured according to standards of general law, and not according to Halachic standards," the judge wrote in her decision.

The Rabbinate of Ashdod had demanded that a kosher supervisor receive the keys to the establishment and that he be the one to open and close it each morning and night in order to assure the kosher standards of the restaurant. The judge ruled that this demand was unreasonable, and that it harmed the owner's basic rights.

The High Court ruled that "the kosher law is not a religious law, but rather a secular law and therefore is not subordinate to halachic standards." Rabbi Amar wrote that as a result, "There is no choice but to gather our forces to prepare a bill in order to defend the status of kashrut in the country - and the sooner, the better."