December 28, 2009

Knesset Set to Adopt Reforms in Kashrus Certification

Jerusalem…KosherToday Israel Bureau Chief and Staff Reporters…Rising abuses of kashrus in Israel are being addressed by the Knesset Comptroller’s Committee. It is determined to introduce new guidelines to assure that eating establishments that claim to be kosher are indeed certified kosher. A blistering report from State Comptroller retired Judge Micha Lindenstrauss found many instances of forged kashrus certificates with the owners claiming that they are genuine. Ynet reports that Knesset Member Otniel Shneller of Kadima, himself an observant Jew, is heading up the team which will set up a government authority to regulate Kashrus supervision. It will be responsible for setting the fees eating establishments will pay for certification, the hiring of the kashrus supervisors and their salaries. Shneller said that large sums of money are involved in the kashrus certification process. "And I am not certain that a kosher diner can be 100 percent sure an establishment is kosher just because there is what seems to be a valid certificate displayed in the window." Many of the kashrus supervisors are officially employed by local religious councils but are paid by owners of the food establishments. "The system is flawed," Shneller admitted, "because many times family members are hired causing many problems." The new authority will base its operations on new laws which Shneller said will eliminate the need for the food establishments to pay the kashrus supervisor directly. The local religious councils will retain the responsibility for choosing the supervisors, training them and monitoring their work. The reform will enable the acquiring of two different standards of kashrus supervision—that of the rabbinate and that of a more stringent private rabbinical authority. Sheneller believes that it will take several months for the legislation to wind its way through the Knesset.