Nov 21, 2011

Yeshivas Might Soon Have To Employ Additional Mashgiach, For Kitchens

Rafi Yohai is the director of the fraud department of the Rabbanut kashrut division. Yohai does great work keeping track and removal of products, restaurants and companies with fraudulent hechshers.

Yohai announced that after many complaints, the Rabbanut has decided to obligate yeshivot to hire a certified mashgiach to be in the kitchen at all times and guarantee the kashrus of the yeshiva kitchen and food. Yohai says it is incomprehensible that a restaurant that serves 20 tables with only a dairy or a meat kitchen is required to have certification and a mashgiach, while a yeshiva that serves hundreds of people, serving both dairy and meat at different meals on the same day often from the same kitchen do not need a mashgiach.

Often the kitchen staff of a yeshiva might have one person who is overworked, they might have an arab or two who don't know anything about kashrut, maybe they have a couple of the yeshiva students take turns helping out at times or sometimes someone who oversees everything who sticks his head in once in a while. In the meantime, Yohai says, they have received many complaints from yeshiva students and families regarding problems in the kitchens that just are not dealt with.

So, the Rabbanut wants to obligate yeshivas to hire a mashgiach. The yeshivas, already strapped for money, say it is not an issue, the kitchen is under the auspices of the Rosh Yeshiva and he makes sure everything is ok. As well, the rabbanut has enough issues to work on around the country, enough problems to solve, and better they should work on that and leave the yeshivas alone.
(Source: Kikar and Behadrei)

To that Yohai says the rosh yeshivas are not mashgichim and they are busy running the yeshiva. Even if they set policy, they are not actively running the kitchen and they do not have time to, and therefore they do not really know what is going on in the kitchen.

1. Saying there are other problems go deal with them, is not a confidence builder that there are really no problems. Just because it is a yeshiva, with a great rosh yeshiva at the helm, does not mean there are no problems in the kitchen.

2. I personally worked in the kitchens of every yeshiva I learned in. I do not remember anybody ever checking up on us to make sure we were not doing things properly. That is not to say we were mixing meat and milk. Items were kept pretty separate, but still...

3. We also don't have mashgiachs in our home kitchens, and people can make mistakes. Is the yeshiva kitchen more like a home kitchen, serving only to the people in the yeshiva and its guests or is it more similar to a restaurant kitchen which is operating as a business serving anyone who sits down and pays?

4. Can the yeshivas, and the society they are in, teach and inculcate in the students the need for mehadrin standards and insistence on proper supervision while at the same time refusing to implement the same on themselves?

5. Maybe there will be, or maybe there should be, different hashgachot for different yeshivot. Some yeshivot will be fine with the Rabbanut mashgiach and hechsher, while others will prefer to do this under the Rubin hechsher. Hassidic yeshivot might go with a hassidic hechsher, while other yeshivot will only use the Eida hechsher and mashgichim. In Bnei Braq they will only use She'airis hechsher and mashgichim and sfardi yeshivot will use either Machpud or Atara, depending on affiliation.

6. The articles did not specify if these yeshivot are Dati Leumi yeshivot, Haredi yeshivot, or both. I would assume it refers to all yeshivot, no matter what sector they are associated with. That being the case, will yeshivot that teach to only eat mehadrin standards with perhaps mashgiach temidi in restaurants, also be obligated to hire mashgichim at that level, or will basic mashgichim and supervision be enough?


  1. How can the Rabanut force a yeshiva to have a mashgiach? A yeshiva is a private body and can do what it likes in its kitchens. The question is should the yeshiva bachurim be eating in a kitchen that doesn't have any kashrut certification.

  2. good question. Maybe they can make a law that institutions require it. Maybe any kitchen that serves more than x number f people requires a mashgiach. or something similar.

  3. A home is a private place. The home kitchen has a limited amount of traffic and 'business'. The homeowner is relied upon because of the same principles that require us to rely on an observant Jew in many other circumstances. The individual's hazaka applies to what they do in their home.

    The yeshiva kitchen is typically a larger operation with a greater opportunity for mistakes; and less opportunity for catching those mistakes. Personally, I would have thought that the yeshiva's administration is responsible for the kashrut; but in any case it isn't directly comparable to a private home.

    Actually, the entire institution of a formal 'hechsher' isn't required even for commercial places like restaurants. The problem is we have no other objective means of relying on the business owner who may be swayed by his direct money-making interests to take short cuts. Clearly, back in the days when my great-grandmother ran a taver in Galicia, she didn't have a rabbanut hechsher. But she probably did rely on the local observant Jews and rav to speak up for her and say she was God-fearing and reliable on basic religious matters.

  4. Rafi - back before Skokie Yeshiva hired a shomer Shabbat guy to run their kitchen and do most of the actual cooking, they had a mashgiach - usually one of the guys in the smicha program/kollel (like my uncle, who did it for a number of years).


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