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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Mehadrin’

New Bill Revokes Get-Refusing Inmates’ ‘Mehadrin’ Kosher Food, Boarding Privileges

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

The Knesset on Wednesday debated a bill submitted by Habayit Hayehudi Chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli revoking the special privileges of prisoners who refuse to grant their wives a get-religious divorce. The bill singles out Orthodox Jewish prisoners who are entitled while behind bars to stay in the prison’s “religious” section, participate in Jewish studies, and eat a stricter-standard “kosher l’mehadrin” meals. The idea is to use the loss of these privileges to force the prisoner to set his wife free.

To be clear, the law does not deprive the Orthodox inmate of his basic Jewish needs, it merely takes away elements of his “ultra-Religious” lifestyle.

Some Orthodox prisoners are actually sitting in jail for their refusal to grant the get, so that by freeing their wives they can set themselves free. But in the case of these Orthodox men, prison often resembles their normal everyday life, and in some cases may be an improvement — in prison they can sit and learn all day with a group of other Orthodox men, celebrate Shabbat and the holidays, and not have to worry about parnossah (making a living). MK Moalem hopes that removing those prisoners’ ability to live a full Jewish life behind bars and inserting them in the general population might help change their outlook on life in prison.

MK Moalem-Refaeli said, “A man who turns his wife into an aguna and refuses to obey the judges’ order to stop abusing her is not truly a man who values halakha and maintaining a Jewish lifestyle. He tramples the most essential Jewish principle, Love your fellow man as you would yourself, only to make his wife’s life miserable. Therefore he is not worthy of enjoying the plethora of privileges prison affords religious inmates.”


Some Ultra-Orthodox Troubled by Bazooka’s New Kosher Certification

Monday, November 30th, 2015

For religious Jewish kids growing up in America, Topps’ Bazooka bubble gum was the ultimate forbidden candy, along with the Topps’ bubble gum that was packaged along with the Topps’ baseball cards (you bought it for the baseball cards, right?). In Israel, Elite sold the gum with a standard kashrut certification and many a package of Elite Bazooka gum was shipped to America over the years.

Only recently did the Israeli ultra-Orthodox kashrut service of the “Badatz” (Hebrew acronym for Court of Justice) award the Elite Bazooka gum with a Mehadrin certification, classified as “Megadim” which is a fancy biblical word for sweets. But upgrading the certification from standard kosher to ultra kosher apparently hasn’t helped a few among the Israeli ultra-Orthodox reverse their attitudes. Yael Kliger, writing for Kikar Hashabbat, in a piece titled “Kosher but Smelly,” said she just cannot accept this chewy product, which she had been taught was made from pig’s fat.

Even the American Bazooka, which has been kosher certified for years now, was unacceptable to Israeli Haredim. “It was the treif of treifs, darkness within darkness,” Kliger recalls. The comic strip inside the gum wrapper was sought by her and her peers “to try to read the joke, often feeling bad and sinful for stupidly daring to touch the powdery wrapper of the treif gum.”

Ask any middle aged ultra-Orthodox man or woman, Kliger wrote, “they all remember some drama or horror story related to this product. Someone wrote that he remembers his grade school rabbi taking a lighter, igniting the gum in front of the students, and telling them that the dripping red liquid was the blood of the ‘other thing’ from the gum.”

“And now, unanimously it’s been decided bazooka is in?” Kliger argues that the Badatz, known for its assaults not only against unreliable kosher certifications, but also against smartphones, publications, all the many elements that they deem not to belong in an honorable Jewish home, now, for the money they received from the Elite candy maker, they see fit to reverse decades of group behavior?

There are many opinions on the reason for singling out the Bazooka as treif in the Haredi community in Israel, and to some extent abroad—as many views as there are talkback comments on Kliger’s article. Some believe it had to do with the fact that the Bazooka gum presented a challenge in terms of control — it’s so easy to grab and stuff in your mouth, so the rabbis had to put the fear of God in kids’ hearts. Others suggest it came down to the comics and the jokes — rabbis don’t like their kids reading jokes without a measure of control.

One talkbacker said the kashrut certification is meaningless, because of the halachic concept of “minhag hamakom,” the local practice. If it’s been forbidden, it should stay so.

In fact, Kliger was calling on the Badatz to demand some changes in the product, so it wouldn’t appear as if what has been so decidedly treif for so long is suddenly permissible. Like Mad Magazine and Cracked.

The Israeli Bazooka jokes, by the way, are even less amusing than the original, and are often plagued by bad translation from the English. Shahar Ilan, who reported on the new Haredi certification in Ha’aretz, used as an illustration a Bazooka comic strip in which a waiter serves Bazooka Joe soup, and the latter complains that it has “ta’am matzhik” which in Hebrew means “hilarious taste,” to which the waiter retorts: “So why aren’t you smiling?” — leaving the Hebrew reader scratching their head wondering why the soup was so hilarious.


Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin

Friday, October 24th, 2014

With 5775 being a Shemittah year, that imbues vegetables and fruits from Israel this year with a sanctity that requires some extra attention in the kitchen.

There are various halachic methods that are used to handle Shmittah, or alternatively, circumvent it entirely.

One method is “Heter Mechira” which is similar to selling Chametz for Pesach, where the fields are temporarily sold to non-Jews. This popular method, used by the Israeli Rabbinate, is considered controversial by some, and generally unacceptable by many Hareidim.

A second and preferred method is “Otzar Beit Din”, where a religious court takes control of the field for the year, but then the vegetables and fruits have Shemittah sanctity and extra care must be taken with them.

Hareidim generally prefer a third method, where they simply buy fruits and vegetables from Arabs in Judea and Samaria. It circumvents the Shemittah issue, and makes the fruits and vegetables “Shemittah-free”, though Hareidim miss the opportunity and mitzvah to eat Shemittah food as a result.

Hareidim designate this method “Mehadrin” – though there is a lot of room to disagree with that designation.

(There’s a fourth option, which was made popular by Gush Katif. Vegetables are grown in hothouses, in pots detached from the ground. It’s an expensive way to grow vegetables, but the vegetables don’t have Shemittah status, and it supports Jewish farmers in Israel. Due to the cost, it is not extensively implemented).

Of course, adding Kosher L’Mehadrin to anything guarantees its price will go up, and Shemittah-free vegetables and fruits bought from Arabs are no exception.

Shemittah-free “Mehadrin” vegetables and fruits can easily cost two or three times more than standard “Heter Mechira” fruits and vegetables.

And that leaves room for disreputable people to try and make an easy and illicit profit.

Agriculture Ministry officials accidentally uncovered a major Arab fruit and vegetable ring this week that was taking advantage of the price difference, according to a Makor Rishon report.

Many Hareidim who thought they were buying “Mehadrin” Shemittah-free vegetables from Arabs in Judea and Samaria – simply weren’t.

The Arabs vegetable network was buying both Heter Mechira vegetables from the open market, as well as vegetables from unknown sources, without any health or agricultural supervision or certification.

The Arab network was stamping their products with fake Israeli Rabbinate certificates and selling them as “Mehadrin” to restaurants and stores who wanted or required “Mehadrin” Shemittah-free vegetables.

The vegetables were distributed throughout Israel to the Hareidi market.

At best, the Hareidim have been eating “Heter Mechira”. At worse, they’ve been eating vegetables grown using unpurified sewer water or pesticides from unknown and unsupervised Arabs fields.

Shalom Bear

New Jerusalem Kashrut Certification Gaining Popularity and Saving Money

Monday, January 20th, 2014

In August, the Jerusalem Rabbinate introduced a new Kashrut certification which is now beginning to become popular among Jerusalem restaurants.

The certification, called “Mehuderet”, is designed for Jerusalem restaurants who are interested in providing Badatz and Mehadrin level certified foods and Kashrut to their clients, but aren’t interested in the politics and prices that the private Badatz certifications bring along with them.

Typically, the private certifications have high monthly fees and lock the restaurants into specific suppliers, especially in the case of meat, even if the other Badatz and Mehadrin products are considered just as kosher.

The “Mehuderet” certification requires that all the products used in the restaurant be at the Badatz and Mehadrin level, but don’t require an additional private Badatz certificate or purchase of products from only specific Badatz certifications.

In addition, unlike the standard Jerusalem Mehadrin certificate, meat that is certified as Mehadrin by the Rabbinate from other cities and not just Jerusalem may be used, which can sometimes result in major cost savings.

One Jerusalem restaurant who made the switch told JewishPress.com, “I pay for the Jerusalem ‘Mehuderet’ certification less per year than I was paying the Badatz each month, and that fee was above the cost of the Mashgiach! After I switched to the Jerusalem Rabbinate’s ‘Mehuderet’ certification I kept my same exact Mashgiach, but I now have flexibility in choosing my Mehadrin and Badatz suppliers and products. My clients care about Mehadrin and they are definitely OK with this new certification.”

In recent years, due to the high certification costs, some Jerusalem restaurants began to forgo the Badatz/Mehadrin certifications completely, trading them in for the minimal Jerusalem Kashrut, while still only using Mehadrin and Badatz products. But that cost saving measure also resulted in a loss of customers.

This new certificate may reverse that tide, by assuring customers that the food they’re eating is Mehadrin and prepared according to the Mehadrin levels they want, while significantly lowering prices.

If this new Jerusalem certificate continues to grow in popularity, we may see other other local Rabbinates in Israel begin to copy the model, creating a revolution in Israel’s tightly controlled Badatz/Mehadrin Kashrut certification industry.

Shalom Bear

Quebec to Tighten Regulations on kosher, Halal Meat Production

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Quebec’s agricultural minister is looking to tighten regulations for kosher and halal meat production.

“We want the slaughter to happen in the most complete conditions of hygiene and cleanliness,” Quebec Minister of Agriculture François Gendron said, in comments reported by Montreal radio station CJAD last week.

The minister said he would announce a plan for new regulations sometime this fall. A spokeswoman for the minister confirmed to CJAD that he still intended to release a plan, though she could not specify when.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, oversees animal slaughter regulations nationally, so Quebec could only regulate meat that is produced within the province and not exported.

Dovid Russ, COO of major Canadian kosher meat operation Mehadrin, told the Jewish news website Bill613.com that new regulations would be unnecessary.

“The CFIA has one of the highest standards of food processing,” Russ said. “Quebec is trying to get more involved for absolutely no reason whatsoever.”

Quebec’s Halal Meat Association told CJAD they supported the new regulations because it could improve the public image of ritual slaughter, but said it found changes unnecessary.

“I think this misunderstanding is related to Islamophobia,” spokesman Mohamed Ghalem told CJAD.

The ruling party in Quebec, Parti Quebecois, drew flack from Jewish groups when it criticized ritual slaughter last year. In a party statement in spring of 2012, the Parti Quebecois said the slaughter of animals for halal meat production “slams directly against Quebecois values.”

“If you read between the lines there is really ethnic bashing, which in my opinion is odious, unacceptable and reeks of intolerance,” Lawrence Bergman, a Jewish legislator from the Liberal Party, told JTA at the time.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/quebec-to-tighten-regulations-on-kosher-halal-meat-production/2013/10/30/

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