An annual $200 license to mark food as kosher in the heavily Jewish Broward County in Southeast Florida may change next week following complaints by business owners.
The annual county license does not guarantee that a business outlet’s food is safe or kosher, only that the owner has a reason for calling it kosher, according to the Florida Sun Sentinel.
Neighboring Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties do not have similar fees. Broward has been collecting the permit fees for nearly 40 years, but on Sept. 10, commissioners will vote on whether or not to repeal the kosher-license regulations.
Business owners are angered by the $200 fee, with Eric Rutner, who owns Diamond Kosher Caterers, saying, “To me, it functioned as a tax on being Jewish.”
He said to show his products are kosher, he is inspected by Orthodox Rabbi Nahum Simon of Community Kosher.
“I don’t think it’s right that my mother has to pay [the county] when you get nothing out of it,” added Kim Kauffman, whose mother owns Nava’s Kosher Kitchen in Hollywood, Fla. The rabbinical certification, which costs $3,600 a year, “should be the only priority,” she said.
There are currently 53 licensed kosher facilities in the county, down from 58 in 2016.
Rutner said the government regulation in kosher inspection and the county’s $200 fee is “unconstitutional,” and he has refused to pay the permit fee for the past five years. That has resulted in him now facing more than $13,000 in fines.