Photo Credit: Ingsoc via Wikipedia
Kosher McDonalds restaurant in Ashqelon, Israel

The Knesset Economics Committee on Monday debated today’s added costs caused by the kashrut certification monopoly and the consequent damage to businesses. Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Camp) noted that the debate of this monopoly in his committee has been going on since a year ago, and added that the debate has to mostly do with money.

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) said that as someone who still objects to the separation of the Jewish State from the Jewish religion, he finds that the Kashrut industry in its current form is doing much to push Jews away from their tradition. He accused Kashrut supervisors of enforcing prohibitions on serving corn on the cub and strawberries in hotels for fear of pests – which they do not obey in their own homes. “You can’t count on the chief rabbinate’s kosher certification because it is corrupt,” Stern said, accusing the rabbinate of enforcing inappropriate, capricious rules.

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MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), who joined Stern in requesting the committee debate Monday, told the members about the horrors experienced by some businesses who use the rabbinate’s supervision – such as one vendor who was fines for selling candy with “Badatz” certification (considered more stringent than the rabbinate’s) who was nonetheless fined 2,000 shekel because he lacked a rabbinate’s certification for his business. When he appealed, they raised his fine to 4,000 shekel, Azaria said, noting that the kashrut monopoly costs close to $160 million annually.

Neta Moshe, representing the Knesset Research and Information Center, told the committee she was unable to get detailed information regarding the cost of kashrut certification because such detailed data does not exist (not a good sign). She was, however, able to offer the fact that 15 thousand businesses in Israel pay close to $8 million altogether for their certification.

Rabbi Moshe Katz, from the NGO Koshrut, told the committee about his group’s proposed solution to establish a national kashrut company, under rabbinic guidance and kashrut rules, to deal with the employment and distribution of kashrut supervisors according to clear criteria and with full transparency.

Rabbi Katz said that his group, together with the NGO Chotam, suggested establishing three universal kashrut degrees in Israel, normal, high (Badatz) and a third level in between (normal plus?), requiring all the kashrut certification services to commit themselves to one of these standards, to prevent the mass confusion plaguing the industry today.

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