Friday, February 18, 2011
Chief Rabbinate issues warning over kashrut problems
The rabbinate’s kashrut division tells Badatz Eda Haredit to resolve irregularities found in a few of its slaughterhouses
The battle over the halachic validity of military conversions appears to be approaching the kashrut industry, with the Chief Rabbinate warning the Badatz Eda Haredit’s kashrut division recently of the consequences it would face if it did not swiftly resolve irregularities found in a few of its slaughterhouses.
According to the 1983 Prohibition of Deceit in Kashrut Law, every establishment that sells, serves or produces food must have a kashrut certificate from the Chief Rabbinate or a body empowered by it to provide one. A business that wishes to have an additional kashrut certificate can do so only on the condition that it also has the rabbinate certificate.
A recent letter from the rabbinate’s kashrut division to the Badatz Eda Haredit – one of the largest, most prestigious and most expensive kashrut certification bodies in the market – noted that a few slaughterhouses recently inspected did not have the Chief Rabbinate’s certificate. While this does not mean the food is not kosher, the owners can be subject to a penalty by law.
The letter also warned that if immediate measures were not taken, the rabbinate would instruct all of the slaughterhouses’ customers to not purchase their products.
Sources close to the kashrut industry claimed that the rabbinate’s kashrut division was acting in the wake of the scathing criticism that Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar has been facing from the haredi- Ashkenazi rabbinic establishment, following his and senior Sephardi adjudicator Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s recent reaffirmation of the validity of military conversions.
The Eda Haredit is apparently organizing a rally this Wednesday to protest the “kashrut certificate” given to the IDF conversions, while elements close to Amar and Yosef have been unsuccessfully attempting to deter the Eda Haredit leadership from its plan.
The Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut division is under the authority of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and not Amar, whose responsibilities include heading the rabbinic courts and, as a result, authorizing the conversions.
However, Rabbi Ya’acov Sabag, head of the rabbinate’s kashrut division, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the recent letter had absolutely nothing to do with the battle over the military conversions.
“We are constantly working and regulating the kashrut, regardless of any issue at hand,” he said.
“There is a slaughterhouse that issues goods without the certificate of the local kashrut, as required by law.
If it does not amend the irregularity, we will have to deal with it.”
A representative of the Jerusalem-based Badatz Eda Haredit’s kashrut department told the Post that he did not know of any concrete complaints the Chief Rabbinate might be investigating.
He also stressed that his department’s certificates were only given to businesses that already had a rabbinate certificate, and noted that its operation was transparent and “open to everyone.”
“We welcome the rabbinate’s supervision, and are glad of any additional supervision that will help the public keep kosher,” he said.