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Kosher Controversies in the State of Israel

Kosher controversies: The Foreign Ministry is insisting on kosher meals in cafes while a rabbi refuses to give a missionary a kosher certificate.
By Avi Yellin
First Publish: 12/20/2009, 9:36 PM / Last Update: 12/20/2009, 9:45 PM

Yad L'Achim

Kosher controversies are cooking in Israel. The Foreign Ministry is insisting on kosher meals in Tel Aviv cafes while a rabbi refuses a court order to give a missionary a kosher certificate.

Earlier this month, a group of leading chefs and restaurant owners in Tel Aviv wrote to the Foreign Ministry, claiming that an regulation stipulating that Israeli diplomats hosting foreign visitors must eat exclusively in kosher establishments denies them business, according to the London Jewish Chronicle.

As a matter of tradition and national pride, even Israeli ministers who do not adhere to Jewish dietary laws in their private lives eat only kosher food at official meals, both in Israel and abroad. At the Foreign Ministry, this extends to a regulation forbidding its employees to entertain visiting dignitaries at restaurants that serve non-kosher food. In addition, government agencies are mandated by law to operate only kosher catering facilities.

While a number of Foreign Ministry employees and parliamentarians have attempted to challenge this regulation in the past, an official ministry spokesman responded to the recent complaints that “there are no plans to change the rules on kosher restaurants.”

In other news om kosher laws, Ashdod’s Chief Rabbi Yosef Sheinin is scheduled to appear before a judge on Monday after a local court charged him with contempt for refusing to obey a High Court ruling to issue a kosher certificate to the Pnina Pie bakery. The Chief Rabbi revoked the bakery’s certificate after it was discovered that its owner is a Christian missionary. While the bakery’s owner successfully petitioned the Supreme Court last June, Rabbi Sheinin has refused to comply with the court’s decision on grounds that certificates can only be granted to establishments that adhere to rulings in Jewish laws by Torah sages.