October 20, 2021

With Israel Set to Open Borders, Tourists Face More Kashrus Confusion

Tel Aviv…Tourists may soon be back on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but for many observers of kashrus, the country’s ever-changing kosher landscape will only prompt greater confusion. Reports indicate that Israel may open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists as early as November 1st. But where to eat if you are kosher may become a challenge, according to kashrus sources. In a new survey by Israel Today, it was reported that just under half of all food businesses in the Tel Aviv District are kosher compared to 66% of all businesses across the country. Among those businesses with kosher certificates, 79% are certified mehadrin, the most stringent level of kosher supervision, according to a new study carried out by Ariel Finklestein and Gabriel Abensour of the Israel Democracy Institute. The study comes on the heels of a planned major overhaul of kosher in Israel by the administration of Prime Minister Naftali Bennet. The reforms will in effect open the door to certifications beyond Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

In addition to the many businesses certified kosher by the Chief Rabbinate, some have opted to receive kosher certification from Tzohar, an Orthodox organization that aims to bridge the gaps between religious and secular Jews in Israel and whose certification is not accepted by many strictly observant Jews. For US tourists used to symbols by major certifying agencies and other Chasidic certifications, negotiating the Israel kashrus scene will only become more confusing.