Dec 2, 2013

Rabbanut appoints its first female kashrut supervisor

The issue of women serving as mashgichei kashrut, kashrut supervisors, for the Rabbanut has been an open case for a couple of years now. The Emuna organization has even field a lawsuit against the rabbanut for not allowing women to serve as kashrut supervisors and for continued delaying tactics.

Those days are now over. The Rabbanut has appointed its first female mashgiach.

While some might expect that the women in the eye of the storm would be a feminist activist, maybe someone who is associated with Reform or Conservative Judaism... It turns out that the first woman mashgicha is a mother of 7 from beitar Ilit named Avivit Revia. Beitar is not exactly a bastion of Reform Judaism nor a hotbed of feminist activity, so I think it is safe to say that she is probably an Ultra-Orthodox woman.

According to Srugim, the Rabbanut has finally responded to the Supreme Court saying they have decided to reform the system and allow any organization to run a course to train mashgichim, rather than the previously limited list of approved courses. This decision will de facto open the doors for women to be certified as kashrut supervisors. they can now take a course and the exam just like everyone else.

Revia told Srugim that naturally women are more involved with food, as politically incorrect as that sounds, and she expects her new position with the Rabbanut will be especially significant.

While I am not quite sure why it was such a big deal in the first place, while perhaps not overly common, it was never uncommon for women to serve as kashrut supervisors both in the US and less commonly but also in Israel for private organizations, I would note that I think Chief Rabbi Lau has shown anybody who was afraid of him as being too haredi or promoting the hard-core Haredi positions because they supported him as Chief Rabbi that they have nothing to fear. With Rabbi Lau's declared position on hetter mechira and now being the first to allow female kashrut supervisors, he is not exactly the extreme-haredi rabbi some people expected. As a matter of fact, he seems to be far more liberal than many expected, and I would not be surprised if some of his original supporters (during the election period) are even a bit miffed by some of his positions...

As this post was about to go online I saw that Rav Shlezinger, rav of Gilo and one of the leading rabbonim in Jerusalem and heavily involved in the Rabbanut, said that halachically there is no problem with women serving as kashrut supervisors, but in general women are not so appropriate for the job. Rav Shlezinger said religious and Haredi women are normally very timid, and part of the job of mashgiach is to be a policeman and to be strong and suspicious... so while it is not a halachic problem, usually women are not appropriate for such a job.
(source: Kikar)

While Rav Shlezinger might be right and such a timid woman should not be hired as a mashgiach kashrut, I don't know that such a rule is appropriate. There are aggressive women, in the frum community too, just like there are aggressive men, and there are timid men just like there are timid women. Whether hiring a man or a woman for the job, for any job, it would be prudent and best to hire one that is appropriate for the work involved.




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15 comments:

  1. There are definitely aggressive women in the frum community (Read: Immodest).

    Nevertheless, the main question here is if businesses will be exempt from accepting a female kashruth supervisor, if it goes against its religious convictions (I didn't say halakhah; I said convictions).

    IOW, all of us have equal rights to assert our religious beliefs, but some of us (M/O, mamlakhti, feminist, etc.) are more equal than others.

    Such is the hypocrisy of Israeli deMOCKracy.

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    Replies
    1. I think it's perfectly OK for a business to refuse a female supervisor, but only if it's OK for the Rabbanut to withhold supervision. It has to go both ways, right?

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. should a religious doctor working in the ER be exempt from treating a secular patient if he feels that he shouldn't treat a someone who in his religious convictions is a kofer?

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    4. @Ben

      Of course not! There's no heter to allow someone to die because of one's religious convictions.

      Kashrut certification is a service. If the one receiving the service can set conditions, it is only fair that the provider be allowed as well. This is simple business.

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    5. א אין כורתין ברית לעובדי עבודה זרה, כדי שנעשה עימהם שלום ונניח אותם לעובדה--שנאמר "לא תכרות להם ברית" (דברים ז,ב): אלא יחזרו מעבודתה, או ייהרגו. ואסור לרחם עליהם, שנאמר "ולא תחונם" (שם). לפיכך אם ראה גוי עובד עבודה זרה אובד או טובע בנהר, לא יעלנו; ראהו לקוח למות, לא יצילנו. אבל לאבדו בידו, או לדוחפו לבור, וכיוצא בזה--אסור, מפני שאינו עושה עימנו מלחמה.

      ב במה דברים אמורים, בגוי. אבל מוסרי ישראל, והמינים, והאפיקורוסין--מצוה לאבדן ביד, ולהורידן עד באר שחת: מפני שהן מצירין לישראל, ומסירין את העם מאחרי ה', כישוע הנוצרי ותלמידיו, וצדוק ובייתוס ותלמידיהם--"שם רשעים, ירקב" (משלי י,ז).

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  2. Irregardless, how many times will it take for the Rabbinate to cave into the secular courts' demands, before it completely loses its legitimacy?

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  3. And if someone says "i'm not going to hire you, guy who lives over the green line, because it is my deep belief that people like you are what is stopping peace between us and the arabs", or someone says "sorry moishe, you can't be my kashrut supervisor. you didn't serve in the army, you're violating my religious beliefs". how about those convictions?

    if the rabbinate/religious doesn't want the secular courts to tell what's what, they can always resign and demand a complete separation from church and state.

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  4. i was wondering why the yahoos on kol brama were talking about this issue. the one true comment made was that if rav stav had been elected and made this decision, the screaming would have been loud and immediate.

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  5. Ben, exactly one of the reasons why electing Rav Stav would have been a bad idea.

    As for the mashgicha, Rav Lau was interviewed on Kol Brama last night and did shoot them down quite easily. He brought the origin of the psak by the Aruch Hashulchan that a female could be a mashgicha, but also added that each city rabbi has to approve if they follow Rav Shach or Aruch Hashulchan (who does not allow). On top of that, Rav Lau's clincher was saying that everything is in coordination with Rav Yitzchak Yosef himself.

    How a mother of 7 is going to do stake outs on Shabbat to make sure restaurants owners are closing before Shabbat and not opening before Shabbat is done is a good question I'd like to get an aswer for.

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    Replies
    1. Obviously such a job (and many others) is not appropriate for a mother of 7 - that is no reason to forbid ANY woman from taking it.

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  6. Josh

    How a mother of 7 is going to do stake outs on Shabbat . . . .

    the same way the father of seven would (coordinate with hubby before hand about what to put on the platta, etc).

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    Replies
    1. The hubby needs to be in shul. The women is not required to daven or find a minyan.

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    2. see chana's reply below.

      the argument that a woman can't do a job because of the kids is a canard. if she can't do the job, she won't. however that some woman somewhere can't do the job is no reason not to hire one who can.

      plenty of women doing plenty of jobs which require them to be away on shabbat. husbands manage. same thing for any other job, btw. same thing for any man whose job requires him to travel 2 weeks a month. wives deal with the situation or they don't and ask hubby to find another job.

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  7. Mothers of 7 work hospital shifts 3-11 Saturdays. There were always a bunch of us ready to hear havdala at the nurse's station when I still worked at the hospital.

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