The chairman of the liberal Tzohar rabbis' organization, Rabbi David Stav, said Wednesday at a conference of the Israel Hotel Association that there is a need to change the "monopoly of the rabbinate," as he puts it.
"Monopoly is a bad thing, the franchisee can do whatever he wants. We are coming to the rabbinate and the legislator, and we want to change the arrangements by opening up kashrut in order to create competition between the rabbinates. In parallel, we are striving to open kashrut companies in order to produce other alternatives," explains Rabbi Stav.
He noted that "in the last few months we have been talking to the hotel association to grant kosher certification on behalf of Tzohar, and we are talking about kashrut, and only about kashrut and not other things."
"We believe that we will be able to lower the cost of kashrut while maintaining a level of kashrut even higher than that which currently exists, with full transparency," adds Rabbi Stav.
"If you want the public to come to the hotel, 90 percent of the religious, traditional, and secular Jews trust Tzohar's kashrut, and those 10 percent who do not trust Tzohar do not use rabbanut kashrut," Stav claims, without providing a source for the statistic.
"Most of the country wants kashrut, but not the taking advantage of jobs," he said. "The kashrut we offer is good for the State of Israel and we believe it will lower the costs of kashrut for hotels," concluded Stav.
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, one of the leading Religious Zionist rabbis, has called Tzohar's proposal a disaster for Israel and Judaism if it is implemented. Ariel and other opponents have argued that the lack of a universal minimum standard or oversight would lead to a deterioration of kashrut observance, the spread of fictitious certifiers, confusion amongst religious diners over which certifications adhere to traditional standards, and ultimately leave the country even more religiously polarized.
The Rabbinate kashrut is given on a sound halakhic basis, but there are more stringent kashrut certifications, such as the various haredi Badatz kashrut, for those who want to go beyond those requirements.