October 14, 2013

The Late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Left a Kosher Empire

Jerusalem…The funeral of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was said to be the largest Jewish funeral in history. Police estimates were that 850,000 people participated in the funeral of the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and Torah sage last week. Although the media largely focused on his stewardship of the Shas party, his role as a rabbinic leader and Torah brilliance, Rabbi Yosef played a significant role in the development of the kosher certification, Badatz Bet Yosef, under the leadership of his youngest son Rabbi Moshe Yosef, in whose home and care the elder Rabbi Yosef was since the passing of his wife some 20 years ago.  The Bet Yosef kosher standard meticulously follows the standards of Rabbi Yosef Caro (Toledo, 1488 – Safed, March 24, 1575), the author of the codification of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch. The Bet Yosef certification is widely used amongst Sephardic and other Jews. An estimated 70% of Israeli restaurants follow the Bet Yosef standard as do many eating establishments in France and several in the US. In one of his weekly broadcasts, Rabbi Ovadia lamented that some were abusing the Bet Yosef standard, so coveted by Sephardi Jews and not as widely accepted by Ashkenazic Jews. Under Rabbi Moshe Yosef, the Badatz Bet Yosef certifies hundreds of establishments and products in Israel.