Shuli Moalem Refaeli
Shuli Moalem RefaeliMiriam Alster, Flash 90

MK Shuli Mualem Refaeli (Jewish Home) will submit a bill that will prevent private kosher bodies from demanding the removal of workers from the production of food and wine only because they are of Ethiopian origin.

The bill follows the decision by the director of the Barkan Winery to remove Ethiopian workers from the wine production process, following a demand that came from the kashrut supervision department of prominent haredi organization Edah Haharedit.

According to MK Mualem, the call to boycott Barkan's products is wrong. "The problem here is not the Barkan winery but a racist and anti-halakhic outlook of a kashrut supervision organization that demanded it from a business owner who wants to appeal to a broad clientele.”

"If the leaders of Edah Haharedit kashrut supervision fail to renounce the decision to demand the dismissal of workers of Ethiopian origin as a condition for wine certification, I will work to advance legislation that will impose restrictions on this kashrut body."

"Edah Haharedit kashrut cannot boast that food under its supervision meets the Jewish standards of kashrut, if it tramples the rulings of the great rabbis of Israel, headed by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who determined that Ethiopian immigrants are Jews," said MK Moalem.

Edah Haharedit kashrut supervision said in response: "Edah Haharedit kashrut respects the Ethiopian community in Israel and its great contribution to Israeli society. Many Jews who immigrated from Ethiopia are employed in factories under the supervision of Edah Haharedit and are known for their dedicated work with mutual respect and full trustworthiness.

"During the various aliyot [mass-immigrations] from Ethiopia, immigrants that weren’t Jewish arrived in Israel, and therefore they were asked by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to undergo giyur lechumra [conversion to settle a doubt]. Due to the commitment of Edah Haharedit to the most stringent kosher wine lovers, Edah Haharedit is even more careful in the process of wine production by those whose Jewishness is in doubt.”

In this case, Edah Haharedit preferred to generalize, in order not to hurt one worker or another, and therefore asked to transfer three dear workers to another department in the factory, without harming their livelihood, thereby preventing personal insult to workers. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel also works in a similar fashion.

"Edah Haharedit supervision has recently turned to one of the leading rabbis of the Ethiopian community in Israel, and he has accepted their request to assist in examining Jewishness as he does in the case of Ethiopian immigrants who wish to marry. Every new or old immigrant can, if he wishes, very easily receive clarification of Jewishness and certification of Jewishness.”