Jan 22, 2014

new State-run Kashrut authority being formed

The job of mashgiach kashrut has always been conflicted - on the one hand, everyone is trusting the mashgiach to get the kashrut right. On the other hand, they get criticized for the way the system works.

Currently, the mashgiach is almost always employed by the restaurant he is certifying and not by the Rabbanut. The Rabbanut tells the restaurant owner how much hashgacha he will need and how much it will cost, and the restaurant hires the mashgiach directly.

The problem some people have with this arrangement is that, they say, the mashgiach is not truly independent and cannot possibly do his job correctly. He might not be willing to take a stand against the restaurant owner out of fear of losing his job.

How can a mashgiach get the trust he requires for his job?

Deputy Minister of Religious services Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan has the answer. Ben Dahan wants to form a kashrut authority that will employ the mashgichim. The restaurants will pay a kashrut fee to the kashrut authority , and the authority will pay the mashgichim. A set of ethics and policies will be formed for the mashgichim, and they will be supervised by the kashrut authority.

Ben Dahan says this will strengthen the Rabbanut kosher label.
source: Kikar

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  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I am aware of two different types of city mashgichim - the one that is employed by the local moetza datit/rabanut that shows up for daily 15 min surprise visits and the one called 'neeman kashrut', although approved by the rabanut, but work directly for the establishment.
    - Regular rabanut certification is for either meat, parve, or dairy requires the minimal 15 minute daily visits.
    - A place wanting mehadrin rabanut certification requires a neeman kashrut to be on the staff, can be a regular worker, not needed during all shifts.
    - A bakery wanting to sell dairy and parve even with regular rabanut certification requires a neeman kashrut, not on all shifts, and then they can more easily get mehadrin status anyway. Without neeman kashrut as a regular employee, the rabanut will declare everything 'bhezkat halavi' which means you cannot eat the parve stuff directly with meat - Challah for instance.

    As for nationwide agency, good for Rav Dahan. The poor image of rabanut certification is due to some rabanuts being less stringent than others and this makes a safek on all the rest.

  2. sounds right, though I am not familiar with all the details. There is a lot of ambiguity in how these things work exactly.

  3. where did you get your information about this "15 minute visit"?

    1. Ok, it might be even shorter than that. Checking out the products in the fridge and storage, bills, receipts... Sitting around and doing 'nothing'? I didn't even get into the qualification of the mashgichim, any certification, if they go to workshops during the year to increase knowledge and hear hew things - and it also has something to do if their boss - the chief rabbi, or head mashgiach, cares much at all, or allows compromises.

      Each rabanut might have a different policy and that is where most end up failing consumer confidence.

  4. This is an important issue - I heard from a former city Rabbi that one of the catering halls that had been in his jurisdiction was caught by the Mashgiach regularly falsely promising potential clients that even though he was "Regular" Rabbanut - he would provide Mehadrin meat - even though the Mashgiach knew that the meat delivered that day was not Mehadrin.
    The owner of the hall, who is religious and an active member of a local shul, has been pressuring the Rabbanut to allow him to employ a different Mashgiach (who also happens to be the uncle of the owner of the hall). Sounds like a law like Rabbi Dahan is proposing would help take some of the pressure off the local Rabbanut who have to say "no" to a respected "frum" member of the community.


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