February 10, 2014

Israel Makes Yet Another Attempt to Regulate Kosher

JERUSALEM — The web of kosher standards and certifications has perplexed many chief rabbis in Israel. Former Chief Rabbis Bakshi Doron, Yonah Metzger, and Moshe Amar all attempted initiatives that ultimately went nowhere. Last week, Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett and his Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, along with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau presented proposed reforms to Israel's Kosher [Jewish dietary laws] certification system. The reforms include several steps to standardize the current system, according to Bennett.

"The main problem is that the Mashgiach, the one who grants the Kashrus (Kosher) certificate, is employed by the Mushgach, the one who is receiving the kosher certificate!," Bennett explained in a Facebook post.  "It is a broken system, with no uniform standards." In addition to changing the way mashgichim are paid, Bennett proposed three distinct levels of kosher certification - and regulated by the State. The three levels of kosher would be  Standard, Mehadrin, and Mehadrin Min Mehadrin. This will allow each business to choose what level they want, Bennett explained. "Additionally, this will allow the consumer to choose where they eat based on the level they are comfortable with." A major component of the proposed reform would be clear signage that would spell out the level of kashrus.