Rabbinate committee to recommend Kashrut improvements

Rabbinate Kashrut system must have national standard, Chief Rabbinate Director says, adding that current system is confusing and wasteful.

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Hillel Fendel,

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Moshe Dagan, Director-General of Israel's Chief Rabbinate, said yesterday that the Rabbinate is not happy with the current situation in which "every local regional rabbinate has its own Kashrut policy."

Dagan spoke at the Knesset Economics Committee session, which discussed the ramifications of the Chief Rabbinate's supervision over kashrut throughout the country. MKs Rachel Azariah (Kulanu) and Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), who wish to privatize kashrut supervision, called the session.

Azariah has submitted a bill that would render the Rabbinate a "Kashrut regulator" instead of a "Kashrut provider." The Rabbinate would provide licenses to private kashrut providers, which would operate according to their own standards.

Avner Porat, of the Hotam Organization – "Judaism on the Agenda" is its motto – objected to Azariah's privatization plan. "It will cause anarchy and deception," he said, "in that consumers would essentially not know what type of kashrut they are getting... Those who want quality public kashrut as part of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel, need a professional public body that has responsibility for kashrut – and that is the Chief Rabbinate."

The Rabbinate's Dagan said that Chief Rabbi David Lau has established a committee that is to present recommendations, two months from now, for the improvement of kashrut in Israel. He acknowledged that there was no need for "double and triple kashrut certifications" on the same product – caused by private "Badatzim" (private haredi kashrut certifications) that do not accept the Chief Rabbinate's kashrut standards. "There should be two standards," he said: "Basic and mehadrin; I'm sure everyone will go along with that."

The Hotam plan, supported also by the Kosharot organization – widely trusted by the religious-Zionist public to evaluate the various kashrut certifications – recommends three different standards: regular, mehadrin, and something in between. The organizations say that this will prevent the confusion that now reigns as to how stringent, or lenient, each local rabbinate is.

Rabbi Moshe Katz of Kosharot also recommends the establishment of a national kashrut company that will operate according to kashrut rules set by the Chief Rabbinate, but will be responsible for actually employing the kashrut supervisors according to clear criteria that will be available to the public.

"When Rav Kook established the Chief Rabbinate 100 years ago," Rabbi Katz said, "it was something that was appropriate for that period, when there was a trusted rabbi in each place. There were also tens of thousands of Jews in the country, while today there are millions. The situation has totally changed, and therefore we all agree that the kashrut supervision must also be changed" – though still under ultimate Chief Rabbinate authority.








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