November 2, 2009

European Rabbis Blame High Price of Kosher for Alienation of Many Jews

Brussels…Almost at the same time that major certification agencies were gathering in Secaucus NJ for the annual Kosherfest and AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations) events, European rabbis were meeting here to discuss kashrus issues on the European continent. While reports from the conference sponsored by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) focused on the high cost of kosher food and its effect on assimilation amongst Jews, several rabbis told KosherToday that assimilation was a problem “with or without the high cost of kosher.” They also pointed out that there was a movement on the continent where “many young Jews were being turned on to authentic Judaism, including kashrus.” The British supermarket chain Tesco, whose representatives were at Kosherfest, was said to sell a whole, non-kosher chicken at £2. In contrast, a kosher chicken of similar weight costs between £10-12. An exception is France, where a large slaughterhouse located in Paris provides meat at a premium of just 25%. Rabbi Jermia Menachem Kohen, head of Paris's Consistoire [rabbinical court], said that the large economies to scale enable France's 500,000 Jews to buy cheap kosher meat.

"Since we have such a large demand the added costs for kosher meat are shared by more people which means that each person pays less," said Kohen in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post from Paris. But some kashrus officials said that the cost was not much higher for non-meat items and that even the meat is more expensive “for good reason, namely because of the size of the market.”