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Jul 22, 2008

Status of Kashrut in jerusalem restaurants

The following document is a report on the status of hechsherim in restaurants in Jerusalem.

Rav Katz from Elon Moreh was appointed by Rav Elyakim Levanon to go around the jerusalem restaurants and nvestigate the status of their kashrus. The following report is his review and his recommendations. He writes about the standards supposedly used by some of the hechsherim, and how it is implemented, or not, in the actual restaurants.

Rav Katz went to restaurants bearing certificates from; Rabbanut jerusalem, Rabbanut Jerusalem Mehadrin, Machpud, Rubin, Beit Yosef, Badatz Eidah, Badatz Aguda, Badatz Belz, Badatz Keter HaKashrus, and Badatz Nezer Ha'Hiddur.

The last two listed in the list are "unrecognized" Badatzes. That means there is no oversight on what they do and nobody knows their standards. Even worse is that he found, with these two, that the mashgiach shows up usually no more than once a month, if that often, and then generally just to pick up the check.

In the report, you will read about problems he found, such as how often the mashigach actually shows up, or who checks the rice and beans, who lights the fire (and when that is an issue he differentiates between Ashkenazim and Sfardim because Sfardim are more machmir on who can light the fire and cook the food) and stuff like that. Some more serious issues that arose were he found restaurants with packages of meat that had no labels, and no hechsher, on them. Some would not talk to him, some threw him out, etc.. And more.

After his description of what he found "Ba'Shetach" (in the field), he lists all the restaurants around Jerusalem that he visited and his recommendation regarding whether one can rely on the hechsher or not to eat there. When he recommends against eating there, he writes specifically why and what the issues in that specific place were.

I did not look too much at the list, as most of the restaurants are names I did not recognize. I did look for one, out of curiosity, to see if it was included.

What yeshiva guy and seminary girl spending a year or two learning in Israel has not been, regularly, to "Massov Burger" near the "Tachana" (Central Bus Station)? That place has been around for many many years and has become practically a landmark in the yeshiva world. When I was in yeshiva, it was simply a falafel and shwarma place with a couple of other dishes like jerusalem mixed Grill and the like. I went back a number of years after I left the Yeshiva and found they had revamped the menu according to the whims of the yeshiva guys and girls and included things lile "Chetzi Chetzi" (half half) which was something like a lafa bread with half shnitzel and half shwarma, and other crazy combinations, and it had only gotten more popular over the years.

Masov, or more affectionately know to yeshiva guys as "Massive" is listed in the report. It seems they have taken on one of these cheaper Badatz hechshers, one o the extremely unreliable ones. Rav Katz recommends not eating there. He notes the problems as a problem with "Bishul Akum" according to Sfardim (as per the mashgiach), along with the general problems of Badatz Keter Hakashrut (them being totally unreliable).

Read this document on Scribd: Restaurants Jerusalem Casher


I have embedded the document, but if you find it hard to read like this and want the original pdf, email me and I will be happy to send it to you....

9 comments:

  1. Why not just download it from http://www.pinchas.net/files/kosharot.55133430.pdf ?

    I too was very surprised to see that massov changed their hashgacha; I haven't been there in a while, so maybe I can't complain, but I'm not happy :(

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  2. I was not familiar with that website. thanks. Somebody emailed me the file. He received it from a relative in the rabbinate who received directly from the source.

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  3. Ah, ok. I'd assumed you saw it on Areivim (are you still around?)

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  4. I am but I have not read much there recently...distracted with other stuff. This was posted there?

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  5. Yes [by me, in response to a post by R' SBA]

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  6. Note that with the mainstream Badatzes, he basically says "everyone knows they are trustworthy so I won't bother to discuss them", and in his list of individual restaurants, he does not make a single comment on a restaurant with a mainstream Badatz.

    I had heard it said that rabbanut mehadrin is more reliable than any badatz because there is transparency and the possibility of outside verification of the standards. This report does much to strengthen my suspicion that such is the case.

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  7. Bishul Akum! Sami isn't an Arab Jew?

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  8. i love how most (if not all) the restaurants on Emek Refaim are not kosher as well as most Rabbanut Yerushalim restaurants.

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  9. I wouldn't say they are not kosher. he recommends against eating there and notes why.
    It could be they are below standards that kosherot has set. That does not mean that for somebody who accepts those standards it is no good.

    For example, he sometimes notes by dairy places the problem the restaurant uses chalav akum. Is that a reason to not eat there? If you do not eat chalav akum, yes. But many people do eat chalav akum and for them these restaurants would be acceptable.

    However when he gives examples of finding in kitches unlabeled crates of meat with no known source or hechsher, that might be a problem you would also consider rejecting such a restaurant because of.

    So when he lists standards and problems, you might want to not rely just on his recommendation, but the reason why he recommends against and then see if that fits with the standards you normally adhere to.

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