Dec 4, 2013

Rabbanut changing policy about non-Jews working in restaurant kitchens

Channel 2 News had an interesting expose on kashrut certification. There seems to be some confusion in the report between regular Rabbanut and private mehadrin hechshers, but the issue overall is fairly clear.

They have discovered that the Rabbanut, and this is not limited to the Rabbanut of a particular city but they found the same in the religious council of a number of different city Rabbanuts they spoke to, is now requiring restaurants to only employ Jews in the kitchen in the areas of food preparation. Non-Jews can be hired but only to be on the cleaning staff, and not to work in the kitchen.

Why do I find this interesting? Because until now the Rabbanut has always been very vocal about the fact that they rely on the Rama regarding the issue of "bishul akum" and allow non-Jews to work in the kitchen with the mashgiach lighting the fire or solving the bishul akum issue some other way. Allowing only Jews to work in the kitchen is a significant change.
(source: Mako)




I do not have an opinion if it is a good change or a bad change. With me being ashkenazi, I am perfectly fine with non-Jews working in the kitchen, as long as the bishul akum issue is resolved according to halachic standards and I assume once a place has a hechsher it does so, as per their standards.

On the other hand, with many Sefardim relying on the Rabbanut, maybe it is appropriate for them to use only the Mechaber's more stringent opinion of not allowing non-Jews to be at all involved in food preparation. I have long had the question how Sefardim could eat Rabbanut, both because of their relyign on the Rama for issues of glatt/chalak which should not be good enough for Sefardim, or because of the bishul akum differences. The answer given is that Rav Ovadiah and many other Sefardi poskim allowed Sefardim to rely on the Rama on these (and maybe other) issues.

I don't know why it has been changed. A suggestion is that it is due to natural competition. With so many private hechshers on the scene, the Rabbanut feels it must change some policies in order to compete and stay relevant. Perhaps, and if that is the case, more power to them - competition makes the world go 'round. The other option is that they are becoming more machmir because they are losing sight of what the Rabbanut is meant to be. If that's the case, they might end up with some problems, specifically more and more restaurants unwilling to cooperate and refusing to take the hechsher with the more stringent standards. They would do well to review both their standards and their motives before it is too late.




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15 comments:

  1. Two random thoughts:

    "The other option is that they are becoming more machmir because they are losing sight of what the Rabbanut is meant to be. If that's the case, they might end up with some problems, specifically more and more restaurants unwilling to cooperate and refusing to take the hechsher with the more stringent standards. "

    Whatever the motivation, they run the risk that restaurateurs less committed to kashrut will give up the hechsher altogether. Whenever tightening their rules they run this risk - and it is not clear that they have sight of this issue.

    Also, how much verification do they require for the Jewishness of the workers? That they not be Arab? That the government registered them as Jewish? That they be shomer Shabbat? I suppose that sets up the next arms/chumrah race, which may be requiring certified "mashgiach temidi"s hired by the kashrut organizations for all food preparation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are right, but if they realize the risk and choose it is worth it because they must "improve" in order to compete, then they are changing policy with intent and knowing the ramifications and deciding it is a worthwhile risk.

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    2. this is actually very good. all the people who wanted rav stav now have an issue with which they can attack the "chareidim in the rabbinate".

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  2. what about non-religious jews? why are they allowed in teh kitchen?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the rule of bishul akum does not apply to non-religious Jews. it was a takana against goyim and we never extend takanos beyond the original takana.

      Delete
  3. this isn't such a new issue. i remember reading a debate between rav rozen and rav benny lau on the issue about a year ago. you can probably guess who took which side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Benny Lau? Oh, please!

      Who's Rav Rozen?

      Delete
    2. rav benny lau, thank you.

      rav rozen - head of tzomet, in alon shvut.

      Delete
  4. Oh, don't worry. Just give it time. Someone is BOUND to launch an "anti-discrimination" suit.

    BTW, a friendly reminder: not all non-Ashkenazim are Sepharadim. If you were not implying that, then please remember that there maybe other eidoth besides these two. Just a pet peeve of mine....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. There is a growing trend to use illegal Africans behind the counters who are even cheaper than Arabs and Thais. Some restaurant owners manage to get real work visas if they can prove that the foreign chef is vital to the genre of the restaurant. FWIW, I think I bought a sandwich at one of these kosher 'Thai' places about 15 years ago. Sure, it has a Tel Aviv kosher certificate, but now I know that the burner the wok sits on is probably not on all day long, and the Jewish owner does not always come to turn it back on, so I dont even think the Rama is allowing that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if israeli jews become responsible for the sushi, there will definitely be a lowering of quality standards.

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    2. LOL. My friends already tell me that the widely available wasabi is actually not real here.

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    3. Tell me about it. I think it's "just add water" instant. :-/

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  6. ironically, b'sheva published a tshuva today in which rav yitzaq yosef explains why sefardim can eat in a place having regular kashrut certification (regarding the bishul akum issue; he doesn't address chalaq meat or any other issue).

    ReplyDelete

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