An expanded panel of seven Supreme Court justices will hear Tuesday a petition submitted by the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement that seeks to allow private entities to provide kashrut certificates, not just the Chief Rabbinate.
The petition seeks to include as court advisors (amicus curiae) the Hotel Association, the Restaurant Association, and the left liberal "Torah and Labor Faithful" movement.
Knesset Reforms Committee Chairman MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), who supports the petition, said this morning that "the national Kashrut system is not functioning, and it affects every citizen in the country. Business owners are collapsing from high expenditures, hotels are unable to choose between the various private Kashrut organizations, in addition to all the shocking cases of corruption we know to exist all over the country. The Kashrut monopoly imprisons us all."
Amital Bareli, Executive Director of the Chotam public policy association, attacked the conduct of the organizations opposing the Rabbinate, calling the behavior hypocritical. "The entities requesting to join the petition as court advisors explain that their request derives from the catastrophic Rabbinate kashrut supervisor situation, explaining inter alia that kashrut procedures suffer a lack of uniformity, as each local rabbinate maintains its own standards, precluding the system's ability to function," said Bareli.
"But attacking the Rabbinate with precisely this argument by its opponents is hypocrisy of the first order, because when a bill was submitted by MK Smotrich (Jewish Home) to support the Hotam and Kosharot organizations aim to create uniform kashrut procedures throughout the country, those same organizations opposed the bill and thwarted its advance."
According to Bareli, who learned in Merkaz Harav yeshiva, serving in the Golani brigade before becoming an IDF rabbi, and grandson of Rabbi Nachum Neriya, founder of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva network: "We are witness to inappropriate and irrelevant behavior - while on the one hand they do not allow the rabbinate to correct deficiencies its even though it wants to standardize procedures, on the other hand they run to the High Court with the same shortcomings and say, 'Look, the Rabbinate's kashrut isn't standardized; we must abolish the law prohibiting fraud in Kashrut'."
Bareli also asserts that the obsession with subverting the Chief Rabbinate, in his words, over the Kashrut issue, is an attempt to cause a situation where there is no official body to deal with the issue. "If the Kashrut field remains unregulated, the scope of kashrut fraud will reach enormous proportions. It is interesting that in the field of health no one suggests privatizing the operation and consigning it to private bodies."
In addition, notes Bareli, "The Chief Rabbinate recently raised several options how to enrich the Kashrut system's effectiveness. The committee engaged in it is headed by Rabbi Micha Halevi, Rabbi of Petah Tikva. But recently the Israel Hotel Association and the 'Torah and Labor Faithful' movement scrambled to join the Reform Movement in its petition to the Supreme Court."
"When we see an entity that defines itself as Orthodox aligning with the Reform Movement to petition against the Chief Rabbinate and the anti-fraud in Kashrut Law, it speaks volumes and shows that the purpose of these organizations is to subvert the Rabbinate, not genuine concern for kosher consumers. More than 85% of Israelis want to eat kosher food. If the public was important to those bodies, then they would lend a hand and help correct the Rabbinate's deficiencies, not slander it again and again," said Bareli.