The “government for change” continues to endeavor to live up to its name, with changes afoot in virtually every sphere in life: agriculture; conversion; welfare subsidies; epidemic management… and of course kashrut.
The most vociferous opponents of the government’s plan to implement a “kashrut revolution” in the Knesset have been members of the haredi political parties. If that’s not surprising, then perhaps it should be, because virtually no one identifying as haredi relies on the kashrut supervision of the Chief Rabbinate. Instead, haredim place their trust in the various “Badatz” (beit din tzedek, or righteous court) supervising agencies, whose seals can be found alongside that of the Rabbinate on many food items. This is because as it stands, the law requires all food items to be supervised by the Rabbinate; other kashrut organizations are then free to add their own level of supervision.
The reforms now being proposed by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) would remove the obligation for any food producer (including hotels and restaurants) to choose Rabbinate supervision. For the “Badatzim” that would actually simplify matters and possibly bring down the cost of the products they supervise. So why are the haredi MKs opposed?
Omer Rahamin, a parliamentary aide to MK Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, explained:
“These haredi MKs are actually opposing the interests of the Badatzim — and in effect, opposing their own political interests,” he pointed out. “The reforms being proposed would cancel the current obligation to use the supervision of the Rabbinate and would open the kashrut market to private entities — which would be a dream come true for the Badatzim, who would then be free to establish their own standards [even if they conflict with those established by the Rabbinate.”
“The Badatzim would be able to get rid of the doubling of regulations and standards and avoid all the headache caused by having overlapping supervision,” he added.
“So, in that case, why are the haredi MKs acting against their own interests? It would be a good idea to ask them, but I can make a good guess. Maybe they actually care about the Jewish identity of the State? Maybe they care about non-haredi kosher consumers?”
Multiple surveys over the years have shown that the vast majority of Jewish citizens want to keep kosher, a fact that was also pointed out by MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) in an interview with Channel 13 News.
“I grew up in a secular family,” he said, “and I have no problem with secular Jews — I love them; they’re great. But I have a big problem with Reform, because they’re fakers. Someone going into a restaurant with Reform supervision could end up eating non-kosher without wanting to, and that’s the problem with these new ‘reforms.’”
Rahahim expressed a similar sentiment, writing, “Maybe the haredi MKs are worried that these reforms are the start of slippery slope to rid the State of Israel of all of its Jewish aspects?” he suggested.