Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch
Rabbi Moshe ShternbuchFLASH90

Rav Shlomo Machpud, who heads the 'Yoreh Deah Badatz' kashrut agency, has decided that braekel chickens will not be considered Kosher until further notice, the hareidi Kikar Hashabbat website reported. The move is the latest in a controversial saga that has split the leading rabbis of Israel's haredi community.

Rabbi Machpud decided that the kosher certification giant would not certifiy the chicken after a long consultation with Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, head of the Eida Haharedit, and a vocal opponent against eating the bird.

The chicken breed in question, called braekel, has actually existed for centuries, but was never exported to major Jewish communities abroad, and originates from a region of Belgium where Jews have never historically resided as an organized community.

As Jewish law does not provide clear identifying features for kosher fowl, as it does for other animals, Jews have relied on a tradition telling them which birds are permitted to eat. The Bible has a list of non-kosher birds, all of which are birds of prey.

While many of the top haredi rabbis permit eating the bird, most prominently Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch strongly opposes considering the fowl kosher until a clear tradition can be proven. The controversy has become a split between the hareidi authorities in the Bnei Brak enclave and its Jerusalem counterpart.

A council of leading haredi figures and animal experts met at Rabbi Shternbuch's home last week in an effort to clarify the braekel's status. The animal experts had brought the chicken to Rabbi Shternbuch, who asked them detailed questions about the bird and its history in the Jewish community.

After hours of researching the issue, Rabbi Shternbuch ruled that the braekel does not have a clear Jewish tradition, and is currently forbidden for consumption.

These recent events are not the first time this sort of controversy existed. Small pockets of Jews still refrain from eating turkey, contending that its North American origins render it outside the mesorah of kosher birds.