A High Court petition demanding that the Rabbinate recognize women's certification as kashrut supervisors appears to have brought about a real feminist revolution.
Following the petition, filed by Avivit Ravia of the ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Illit and the Emunah national-religious women's organization, the Rabbinate has declared that ordination exams for kashrut supervisors will be open to everyone.
In the High Court petition filed through attorney Ilan Bombach, the Emunah movement had argued that "Emunah should be allowed to train male and female kashrut supervisors. So far, only a very small number of bodies have been permitted to ordain kashrut supervisors.
Those bodies have not allowed women to take the course, creating a situation in which only men were trained as kashrut supervisors. Emunah opened a special course for women, but the Rabbinate refused to let them be certified as kashrut supervisors."
The Rabbinate's response to the petition reveals that the Chief Rabbinate recently decided to initiate a revolution in this field. Chief Rabbi David Lau decided that the precondition limiting the number of institutions recognized for the certification of kashrut supervisors would be canceled.
The State Prosecutor's Office informed the High Court that the Ministry of Religious Services would make the amendment in the coming days. This means that from now on, any organization will be permitted to offer courses for kashrut supervisors, and those who complete the course will have to pass an exam. In other words, women will be able to attend the courses and take the exam as well.
'Who deals with food more?'
Avivit Ravia, 46, who filed the petition together with Emunah, is a graduate of the first kashrut supervision course for women and hopes to begin working as a kosher supervisor as soon as possible.
"I will work in this field because I believe in it," she told Yedioth Ahronoth. "I don’t believe that there should be orders from above. I think it's a system which should be based on loyalty, both on the part of the business owner and on the part of the people dealing with it. If you're supposed to be a kashrut supervisor in a restaurant and you only come in once a month, you're a fraud and you're not doing your job."
Ravia, who has seven children, the oldest serving in an elite combat unit, says she is excited by the revolution because the role of a kosher supervisor is fundamental.
"This is a defining moment. Naturally, who deals with food more? The woman, as unpolitically correct as it may sound. It's a bit odd that the Rabbinate said, 'This is not your profession." It's very sad that it reached such a situation, but we are here to make a change. We are changing it, and it's wonderful. It's part of an entire system of changes taking place on matters of religion and Judaism at these times."
Emunah Chairwoman Liora Minka said, "This is a great achievement. We will of course wait for them to make all the required amendments to implement the changes. There is no reason for women not to integrate into the field of religious services, and as long as there is no halachic impediment – there is no reason to exclude women.
"This marks the opening of another professional course for women, who have not been able to engage in it so far. We believe that the introduction of women into this field will improve the kashrut supervision industry and make it more relevant and professional."