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Kosher Food Ruling Seems Unkosher

A ruling by a New York judge allowing kosher food to be sold in Mets stadium on Shabbat has been denied by the Mets.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/17/2010, 3:28 AM / Last Update: 8/17/2010, 3:20 AM

A recent ruling by an American court seems very “unkosher”.

The New York Post reported last weekend that a federal judge in Brooklyn handed down a decision on Friday in which he ordered the New York Mets to allow a kosher-food vendor to sell food at Citi Field on Shabbat.

Kosher Sports sells kosher hot dogs, knishes and peanuts at the ballpark. The company sued the Mets for $1 million in a federal court, claiming that by preventing Kosher Sports from selling food during Friday night and Saturday games, the Mets caused the company a loss of half a million dollars.

The Mets claimed that they didn't violate the contract with Kosher Sports, but rather that Aramark, another company that had refused to supply Kosher Sports with carts for games that took place during Shabbat, did.

In his decision, US District Court Judge Jack Weinstein said: "I cannot get involved in a dispute over rabbinical law," and ordered the two sides to work out the terms of the agreement among themselves.

The Mets' lawyer had argued that selling or buying kosher food on Shabbat is a contradiction in terms. The lawyer is correct: It is highly unlikely that a kosher company that sells kosher food during Shabbat would be even be given a Kashrut license. Furthermore, selling kosher fare on Shabbat would render the food itself not kosher as well. In fact, this information has been confirmed by Rabbi Shmuel Heinemann who oversees kashrut for Kosher Sports. Rabbi Heinemann told the New York Post in June that he did not give the company permission to make sales on Shabbat. He added that if such sales took place the stands could not be kosher.

To make things more complicated, the Mets are now claiming that the reports on the ruling are erroneous. The Mets have claimed in an e-mail sent to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the reports in the New York Post (as well as in the New York Daily News who also reported on the case) "mischaracterize" the court's verbal ruling.

The Mets said in the e-mail that while they have not yet received the written ruling, they expect that it will require the status quo (under which KSI products are not sold on Shabbat) to be maintained for the time being.