A meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council held on Monday approved a substantive section regarding the severing of the connection between the kashrut overseer and the business he oversees, in order to resolve the conflict of interests between the business owners and the kashrut inspectors.
The Rabbinical Council’s decision states: “The Council decided that the employment of the overseers would be through the religious councils, guaranteeing the supervisors’ independence, as well as a proper manner in the view of the Rabbinate Council of employing the same supervisors.”
“However, since the Finance Ministry was vehemently opposed to this transaction (by the religious councils), we were asked to find other alternatives,” the statement continued, explaining that “the committee that was established to this end recommended employing supervisors through companies in accordance with the principles detailed in the kashrut outline, and as agreed by the Ministry of Finance.”
“In order to implement the alternative employment method by the religious councils, an outline was agreed upon by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Ministry of Religious Services and the Ministry of Finance,” says the statement. “The plan states that kashrut supervisors will be employed by about four regional companies or associations that will provide supervision services.
“These companies will be selected through a nation-wide tender to be published by the Chief Rabbinate, and the kashrut supervisors will be employed by the winners, to provide supervision services, and will be monitored by the Chief Rabbinate.”
A clear case of who will supervise the supervisor..
These companies will provide only supervision services, and the authority of each city’s chief rabbi on the issue of kashrut will not be affected. This will effectively sever the existing connection between the business owner and the overseer, while maintaining and even improving the economic security of kashrut supervisors, through social benefits,” the statement goes on, stressing that “in this mode of employment, emphasis is placed on determining the appropriate conditions and levels of pay for kashrut supervisors, as well as setting a fixed rate for supervision.”
Indeed, according to the statement, “the salaries of the overseers will be determined in advance by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and won’t be subject to competition among the companies. In addition, the Ministry of Finance agreed that a supervisory unit would be established in the Chief Rabbinate employing professionals whose job is, among other things, to ensure that kashrut supervisors receive their due and that a company that does not fulfill its obligations to the supervisors in its employ will be fined.”
The Rabbinate Council also decided that the local rabbi or his representative has the sole discretion to appoint a kashrut supervisor, as well as to assign each supervisor to a local business.
In addition, the Chief Rabbinate will establish a binding standard for the appointment of one kashrut supervisor, employed by the local religious councils or the municipality’s kashrut departments, for every 40 businesses.
Also, the company that employs the supervisors will not be involved at all in matters of halakha. And should the company fail to meet its obligations to its supervisors, its contract would be terminated.
The Rabbinical Council concluded its statement with a last-ditch effort to eliminate much of the above, insisting that it “views the operation of the kashrut system by the religious councils as the correct alternative.”
And “therefore, prior to the composing of tenders for employment agencies, another effort will be made by the Chief Rabbis and Council members to approach the Ministry of Finance and receive approval for the operation of the system by the religious councils.”
In the end, “should the Ministry approve the operation of the system by the religious councils, the decision regarding tenders to manpower companies will be canceled.””
One gets the feeling they really don’t want those outsider companies meddling in the kashrut business…