Supreme Court: Restaurants can say they serve kosher food

Court rules restaurants without official rabbinical certification can state they serve kosher food, though not that they are kosher.

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Israeli restaurants can tell patrons that they serve kosher food even if they do not have official kashrut certification from the state rabbinate, the Supreme Court ruled.

The ruling was handed down on Tuesday and comes a year after the Supreme Court ruled that businesses cannot describe themselves as kosher unless they have official certification from the rabbinate.

According to the Law Prohibiting Fraud in Kashrut: “The owner of a food establishment may not present the establishment as kosher unless it was given a certificate of kashrut” by an official state or local rabbi.

Many restaurant owners complain that the rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher supervision leads to corruption, and a general adversarial relationship between the businesses and the rabbinical supervisors. In response, several restaurants began using the Hashgacha Pratit, or private supervision.

Chief Justice Miriam Naor wrote in the court’s decision that while a business cannot claim that it is kosher, it can tell those who ask where it purchases its foodstuff and how it is prepared.

“Assuming it is telling the truth, nothing prevents a food establishment from clarifying that the meat it serves was purchased from a slaughterhouse that carries kosher certification; and that the fish it serves are only those with fins and scales,” Naor wrote, according to the Times of Israel.

The Israel Democracy Institute praised the ruling. “By ruling that the rabbinate does not have sole authority to force businesses to obtain kashrut licenses, the High Court justifiably broke the kashrut monopoly. This decision is an important step toward privatizing the kashrut market. While the rabbinate will continue to be an important player in this privatized market, every business owner will soon be able to choose, between using official kashrut services or maintaining kashrut requirements based on personal conceptions for which he assumes full responsibility and that clients have the option of accepting on the basis of trust,” Dr. Shuki Friedman, director of the Institute’s Center for Religion, Nation and State, said in a statement.








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