Photo Credit: Matan Kahana's Facebook
Religious services Minister Matan Kahana (C) with falafel, Feb. 22, 2021.

The first phase of Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana’s kashrut reform is being launched Sunday, which, according to Kahana, “will regulate the kashrut system of the State of Israel and march it forward toward a better supervised and better-organized kashrut.”

Starting Sunday, the owners of restaurants, plants, supermarkets, and any other food production and sale business will be able to choose which local rabbi (through the local religious council) will grant them a kosher certificate. The fact that any local rabbi, through the religious council, is now able to grant kashrut status in any area in Israel, even those outside their own municipality, opens up the kashrut supervision market to competition. Presumably, the introduction of competition in the kashrut system will release the stagnation that has prevailed in the field of kashrut for decades.

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Minister Kahana also suggested that his kashrut reform would “lead to more and more citizens in Israel eating kosher, because the tighter and more diverse the kosher system is, the more citizens would have access to kosher places that are properly supervised.”

Koshrot, a pro-Chief Rabbinate group whose mission is to raise awareness of kashrut in the Jewish public in Israel, has launched a critical campaign on the application, information, and guidance of the subject of kashrut, in collaboration with rabbis, scientists, and kashrut professionals. The campaign informs the Israeli public about the problems that will likely emerge during the first phase, which allows the opening up of the kosher supervision areas so that the rabbi of one city could give a kashrut certificate to a business located in a different city.

Last week, Koshrot launched a “snitch” app to receive reports on businesses all over the country that receive kashrut certificates from rabbis outside their area. “We will be the auditor and regulator if the Ministry of Religious Services is not interested,” Koshrot said, adding, “As of today, the responsibility has passed to the consumers, and we will help them maintain kosher eating because there is no one else to do it.”

A few weeks ago, several dozen municipal rabbis issued a letter saying they would not take part in the kashrut reform, especially in its first phase, and would continue to supervise the kashrut in their own Chief Rabbinate’s appointed areas.

According to Koshrot, businesses that left the chief rabbinate’s kashrut system and moved to private kashrut supervision did not do so because they were offered better prices or service, but because they did not comply with the kashrut guidelines set by the chief rabbinate.

Minister Kahana stressed that his reform would be “a significant factor in strengthening the power of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. In exactly one year, when the transition period ends and the training program takes full effect, the Chief Rabbinate will become a supervisory body with broad powers. When the rabbinate becomes the supervising body, the kashrut system will work in an efficient manner that will ensure all of us better and more elegant kashrut.”

Last October, the Chief Rabbis of Israel of Rabbi Yitzchak Rabbi David Lau, issued a joint letter attacking the kashrut reform, which they called “the destruction of kashrut, which reflects a trend toward the eradication of Judaism in the State of Israel.”

The two chief rabbis accused Kahana of looking to please non-Orthodox sectors in Israel and abroad.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.