July 9, 2012

Changing the Meaning of a Five Star Hotel

You have to give Rabbi Yona Metzger credit for a very novel idea. Israel’s Chief Rabbi is proposing a new kosher grading system for hotels that would essentially alert consumers about the level of kashrus observance at the hotel. 

Here’s how that would work: A hotel that keeps kosher in accordance with today’s standards would automatically be granted two stars, having only Jewish workers in the kitchen adds one star, ordering glatt kosher mehadrin products gives it four stars and observing the Shabbat makes it a full five star hotel. So in theory, suggests Rabbi Metzger, a 5-Star hotel could be rated a 2-Star when it comes to kashrus and vice-versa. 

I asked several kashrus experts what they thought of the idea and not surprisingly they raised many questions. Some examples included where is there a rating for the qualifications of the mashgiach? How would the consumer indeed know if the facility is adequately covered by the mashgiach in question? Who would be given the rating since many kashrus authorities in Israel do not agree with the Chief Rabbinate? How often would the rating be valid for?

In short, many of the respected rabbis I spoke to were not prepared to pass judgment. They agreed that kashrus is perhaps most confusing in Israel and any system that would help tourists and others negotiate the kashrus system in Israel would help. 

One rabbi asked: “Is the regular rating system so perfect that it is ready for yet another rating system that is far more complicated?” If Rabbi Metzger pursues his idea, we will know pretty soon how he plans to implement the system. If not, it will be just another kashrus idea that never saw the light of day.

PLEASE NOTE: Eda Kram, Kosher Today’s New Product Editor, is on vacation. Her column will resume in our next issue.