(JNi.media) Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Zomet Institute, an Israeli high-tech non-profit organization specializing in IT equipment and electronic appliances designed to meet the requirements of Jewish Law, last week called to integrate women in the kashrut supervision system in Israel. After reviewing the various halakhic positions on the subject, Rabbi Rosen said, “As someone who already deals with voicing social and public positions, I think you have to open the doorways wide and let women into the world of kashrut in Israel, here and now.”
According to Rosen, there is no doubt that a woman is reliable as a kashrut supervisor (Mashgiach), but there is a question about the subject of modesty. Rabbi Rosen cited halakhic scholars who object to employing women as kashrut supervisors because of modesty, but insisted nevertheless that the field must become inundated with women, pointing out that the High Court has ordered the rabbinate to let women take exams for kosher supervisor applicants.
Modesty issues, according to the predominant rabbinic views, refers to the potential of social interactions between men and women leading to unwanted intimacy.
“I think this area is suitable for women in terms of capabilities, and the time requirements — women would be able to spread their schedule according to their household’s needs,” said Rosen. “If we all employ female teachers, disregarding the Mishnah and the Gemara and the Halakha where it was determined that women must not teach children because of the fathers who come in, and the press is full of stories about the harassment of teachers and yet Orthodox schools do not refrain from employing female teachers, there is no reason not to let them into this field, just as they have entered the field of being rabbinical court advocates.”
“I think women can raise the standards — in light of what we hear about the norms of the kashrut supervisors,” Rosen said, adding, “If they’ll give women in today’s generation of feminism, who are looking for challenges, a chance to enter all kinds of areas in religious life, I think they can turn it into a challenge.”
Rabbi Rosen noted that there is still a problem according to rabbinic sages in terms of giving women the power of coercion, but suggested it can be resolved by designating the rabbi who awards the kosher certification to a business as the authority, rather than the female kosher supervisor. “And if you need to define their role so that they won’t have the power of compulsion, so let’s define it this way,” said Rosen.
Forum organizer Rabbi Ratzon Arussi of Kiryat Ono, who is member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, wished to qualify Rabbi Rosen’s statement, so that a female kashrut supervisor’s appointment may be strictly confined by the rules of modestly. “The Chief Rabbinate has indeed examined the issue and approved letting women become Kashrut supervisors,” he said, “but it should be emphasized that there is a need to examine each case to avoid problems of modesty,” Rabbi Arussi said.