Privatize Kashrut? A Religious Libertarian’s Dilemma

Outside of marriage/divorce and conversion, the only other major function of the Rabbanut is supervision of Kashrut. In the US, all kashrut supervision is done by private bodies, the OU being the most prominent of them. Each community or city has their own general policy on Kashrut in much the same way that kehillas of old each had their own standard.

In Israel, things are different. It is true that private kashrut agencies such as Badatz Ha’Eda Hacharedit operate in Israel. However, the local and state Rabbinates still provide certification for most of the food products and services such as restaurants and catering. Furthermore, unlike the Charedi certifications which cater to the machmir crowd, the Rabbinate hechshers tend to be baseline.

As a state institution, the Rabbinate must cater not solely to the Orthodox community but to the public at large. This means avoiding the stringencies that would greatly increase the cost of kosher food, causing businesses to avoid selling kosher food altogether. Frummer than thou people may scoff at helping Shabbat desecrators who eat kosher but anyone who wishes to preserve the crucial traditionalist middle of this country would do well to keep their peace.

You can see where I’m going with this:

From where I’m sitting, eliminating the Rabbinate kashrut certification will empower the kashrut “chumra race”. Private businesses in Israel will either cater to the Charedi community, paying ever higher prices to the non-transparent private supervision agencies and mashgichim or else they’ll give up kashrut entirely.

Without an OU-type organization or other structure in place to maintain a baseline, cost-effective and transparent certification process, kashrut will become even more corrupt and disgusting. The likelihood of the terribly divided RZ community establishing such an organization is very slim. The Charedim, of course, couldn’t care less for the needs of the less-observant public.

So what to do?

Please leave suggestions in the comments below.

Advertisements

About AIWAC

Hi, my name is Avi Woolf. I'm an American-Israeli MO Jew living in Israel. I have a background in Israeli (as in Land of Israel) and Jewish History and an insatiable need for knowledge. I also have professional experience as an editor, translator and indexer. Enjoy the ride! If you are interested in using my services or just want to drop me a line, contact me at: opdycke1861NOSPAM@yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Privatize Kashrut? A Religious Libertarian’s Dilemma

  1. Gil says:

    The OU has been quickly increasing it’s presence in Israel over the past few years

  2. AIWAC says:

    Interesting. Could you refer me to sources that discuss this?

    • Shlomo says:

      The OU in Israel positions and markets itself as a mehadrin hechsher. I do not think it is the answer to your query.

      If the rabbanut were to disappear, I expect most processed foods would keep some kind of hechsher, while something like the triangle-K would move in to certify restaurants. I would be more worried about the lack of a framework for checking the kashrut of imported products, and the lack of oversight for fruits/vegetable in the average store.

  3. Moshe says:

    How about having a goverment regulator, similat to NYS kosher laws, that ensures hechsherim have a minimal adherence to SA, and reliability. It will also weed out all the BS hechsherim.

    The rabbanut should be should be slowly morphed and probably downsized into a nationwide agency with across-the-board standards- relying on local rabbis – similar to the OU.

    Manufacturers should have free choice in choosing which (regulated) jashgach they use

    • Moshe says:

      Hasgacha they use. In a place like israel it makes no sense to say they are loosing customers by adopting chumras, aderaba, they are being exposed to a few hundred thousand charedim and a huge export market.

    • Shlomo says:

      There are already across-the-board standards – and great arguments about whether and how to change them. How is your proposal different?

      The BS hechsherim have perfectly fine standards, the problem is that they put exactly zero effort into enforcing them. That is a hard thing to weed out.

  4. AIWAC says:

    “The OU in Israel positions and markets itself as a mehadrin hechsher”

    Idiots.

    “There are already across-the-board standards – and great arguments about whether and how to change them. How is your proposal different?”

    Could you direct me to said arguments?

    “The BS hechsherim have perfectly fine standards”

    BS Hecsherim?!

    “I would be more worried about the lack of a framework for checking the kashrut of imported products, and the lack of oversight for fruits/vegetable in the average store”

    Regarding vegetables; most veggies are home-grown, so that shouldn’t be too difficult. As for imported foodstuffs; doesn’t the OU check what comes into the states? Surely similar orgs could do the same.

    • Shlomo says:

      Davka the home-grown vegetables have problems of trumot/maasrot.

      The OU checks products that have the OU hechsher on them. The rabbanut, currently, puts an “ishur” on pretty much every product that is imported to Israel. I have heard it is also illegal to import non-kosher meat to Israel. In short, there is a big difference between the OU’s certification of “much more than nothing” and the rabbanut’s current certification of “everything”.

      By “BS hechsherim” I assume we are talking about the “fake badatzes” which post impressive looking hechshers in Jerusalem restaurants but never show up to check the kashrut in any way whatsoever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s