August 4, 2021

Rabbis: “Removing Kosher Certification from Ben & Jerry’s Not an Option”

San Diego…The outrage notwithstanding, most leading kashrus authorities in the US were not in favor of removing the “hechsher” (kosher certification) from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Rabbis met here as part of a conference sponsored by the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) as individuals supported the decision by the Kof-K to honor its contract with Ben & Jerry’s despite the company’s decision to stop selling its products across the Green Line in Israel. The Australian Kashrut Authority (KA) announced via their Facebook page that they would be removing Ben & Jerry's ice cream from their list of kosher approved products.

Most US rabbis reached by Kosher Today supported the growing consumer boycott, the removal of Ben & Jerry’s from many grocery chains, and the enforcement of state laws against boycotts of Israel goods by the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement. However, the rabbis were reticent about injecting political and social issues into kashrus and were not willing to urge the Kof-K to withdraw Ben & Jerry’s kosher certification.  One New York rabbi said: “As a rabbi I support the decision not to remove the hechsher for anything other than for kashrus violations but as a consumer I join with all those that are outraged by the behavior of Ben & Jerry’s that borders on blatant anti-Semitism.” Several rabbis say they would urge their constituents to refrain from buying Ben & Jerry’s.

In its statement, the Kof-K said: “…the KOF-K is quite concerned about Ben & Jerry’s decision not to sell to Yehuda and Shomron as of January 1, 2023. Unilever has committed that the company will adhere to their contract. The KOF-K has been in contact with the Israeli Government and the Yesha Council (Council for Judea and Samaria) to determine the most effective way to respond. Based on the advice of the Yesha Council, the KOF-K will continue to fulfill its contractual obligations to Ben & Jerry's while using its influence to make sure that this anti-Israel policy never becomes implemented.  The KOF-K has expressed to Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s CEOs the negative repercussions of this policy.” It remains to be seen whether Ben & Jerry’s will implement their threat.