Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana (Yamina), June 14, 2021.

Army Radio economics reporter Nitay Anavi on Tuesday morning tweeted a copy of Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana’s Optimization of the Kashrut System bill (Matan Kahana Drives a D9 over Chief Rabbinate’s Kosher Certification Monopoly). Here are a few choice items I translated hurriedly. Clearly, a deeper discussion should follow.

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In order to reduce the cost of living through competition in the kashrut supervision industry, to improve and streamline the kashrut services provided to the public, and to abolish the economic affiliation that currently exists between the kosher supervisors and the supervised businesses, to amend the Prohibition of Fraud Law in Kashrut 5743-1983, and the Jewish Religious Services Law:

Licensing of kashrut entities:

  • A mechanism will be established for granting licenses to entities that will provide kosher services for restaurants, goods, and the production of goods.
  • The initial license period shall not be less than three years and the period of renewal of the license shall not exceed five years.
  • Conditions will be set for the renewal and revocation of a license to grant kashrut services.

The kashrut commissioner at the rabbinate:

  • The Minister of Religious Services will appoint a person in charge of the kashrut system at the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
  • The kashrut commissioner will be a senior civil servant, with professional, halachic, and managerial experience relevant to the field.
  • The commissioner shall have the exclusive authority to grant licenses to kashrut services.
  • The authority of the Chief Rabbinical Council and local rabbis to grant a kosher certificate will be revoked.
  • The commissioner shall maintain a register of kosher bodies.

Level of kashrut in the license:

  • The Chief Rabbinical Council will determine three levels of kosher certificates in accordance with halachic standards that each kashrut supervision provider must meet at each level.
  • Nevertheless, a kashrut entity may grant a kosher certificate in accordance with a different halachic standard other than the kashrut standards of the council, if it is determined by three rabbis who are qualified to be elected City Rabbi, and at least one of whom serves or has served as City Rabbi.
  • The Kashrut supervision entity will publish the kosher standard according to which it operates, stating whether it operates according to a council kosher standard or another kosher standard.

Cancellation of kosher certificate:

  • The kashrut supervision entity is obligated to report to the commissioner in the event of a serious violation, due to which it seeks to revoke the kashrut certificate of a given business.
  • The commissioner will have the authority to take action against the business, including revoking the kosher certificate.

Import:

  • The commissioner shall have the exclusive authority to grant a license to a recognized entity to grant kosher status to products that are imported from abroad.

According to Haredi Affairs reporter Akiva Weisz of Reshet Bet, Kahana is trying to ensure that his reform bill will only allow Orthodox kashrut organizations and certifications in Israel. In order to do that, Kahana is trying have the bill pass through the Economics committee rather than through the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee which is chaired by MK Gilad Kariv, a reform clergyman, who might make changes to the proposal, opening it up to non-Orthodox organizations.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.