Mar 25, 2018

kashrus newsletter group

Jerusalem Kosher News has had its ups and downs for a while. In general Yechiel Spira provides a good service trying to educate the public about issues of kashrut in Israel. In general his policy is not to tell anybody what to do, what can and cannot be eaten, but just to educate about standards. Sadly the site goes through long periods of inactivity, though every now and again Spira tries to give it a jump start for a bit.

In addition to the website, Spira has started, a number of times, email groups and whatsapp groups for disseminating information and for the people to ask questions and share their own information. A number of these groups have already been started and stopped, as people tend to get off topic, the deluge of emails about every issue under the sun overwhelms people (including him), the complaints come in, and he pulls the cord on it. It is sad because the groups, just like the website, can be very useful and helpful.

Y Spira has once again restarted an email group for the discussion of kashrut. I hope it does not suffer the same problems and end quickly. If you wish to subscribe, go to and find the JerusalemKoshernews group and do so.

After a few interesting kashrut announcements, the group was used to send out the following announcement by one of the members, and it is things like this that I assume will kill the group again sooner or later:
A Note from JKN: The letter below is from Rabbi Wikler, as you will see. I have been holding this for a number of days, permitting time to decide if it will be rejected or forwarded along to you, the reader. I have decided that despite the fact some of you will yell "this is political", knowing Rabbi Wikler, his reputation, and comittment to kashrus, I feel that while there may be a political air to the message, the matter is indeed 'urgent' as he puts it, an effort to save the state kashrus built by Rav Kook as well as all the other religious services provided by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.  You may act or ignore Rabbi Wikler's message, but I feel he is correct and I know he is motivated strictly out of concern, void of any and all political agendas. Yes, the Chief Rabbinate needs much work, and no one argues this is so,  but as the rabbi points out below, Tzohar in this case has naively teamed up with enemies of Orthodox Jewry who are using this fight to destroy the Rabbinate and the religious Jewry's control of deciding who is a Jew, marriage, divorce, kashrus and burial. 
The rabbi's appeal to readers follows
I think it is urgent for this group, over 3,000 strong, to send emails to the appropriate leaders in Israel and to the Chief Rabbis on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate continuing as the exclusive authority on kosher in israel, and calling on Tzohar to give up its direct attack on the Rabbinate's control. 
For those who have not kept up with the issue, Tzohar, a religious group bent on changing the certain values in Israel to their philosophy, is currently attempting to certify businesses and establishments as kosher (without actually using that word) IN PLACE OF kosher certification by the Chief Rabbinate, the only  legally authorized group to grant kosher status. This is a direct attempt, backed by non-Orthodox movements, to replace the governmental system of kosher with private business. In the diaspora we see how poorly an unregulated private system of kosher certification operates."Can I use this hashgacha" one asks when seeing in the supermarket a display of over 1,396 kosher symbols (as per the latest issue of Kashrus Magazine's Kosher Supervision Guide).
This is a crucial point in history. If we do not support the Chief Rabbinate of Israel now, we will have to answer for the consequences. When the Chief Rabbinate is stripped of its powers, and replaced by private businesses, or, worse yet, it is opened to non-Orthodox "rabbis", it will be too late.
This next idea is mine alone. I believe that women must come out strongly now and oppose Tzohar's efforts to use women mashgichot to give its challenge a universal appeal, claiming that their goal is to work for for the rights of all people. Everyone in the field of kashrus is open to women mashgichot, but to use them as a shield, and to hide the true purposes of this disrespectful challenge, is a mistreatment of the many dedicated women in kashrus and beyond.
Rabbi Yosef WiklerKashrus

A discussion quickly began, with initially the responses supporting the petition against Tzohar. It did not take too long in coming when the responses included those who opposed such a petition, for whatever reason. Of course, I could not resist and joined the fray. Here is what I had to say:
1. I think this list should steer clear of politics.2. once it is not, I think you could do a better job explaining the problem. Why is Tzohar such a threat, especially if it is true as someone wrote above that most people on this list dont rely on Rabbanut anyway and would only use one of the many other private hechshers?
3. Why is the American hechsher system so bad? I never heard such a thing before. I heard exactly the opposite, and generally a private system with competition will almost always be better than a government system and one that is based on a monopoly
4. to the main point, I do not understand why Tzohar is doing anything different than what any of the private mehadrin hechsherim are doing and I do not see why it is any more or less of a threat to the Rabbanut.
5. If I think the Tzohar hechsher is not reliable or up to my standards I will not eat from it, and if it is up to my standards and reliability I will [possibly] eat from it. Why should their being a threat, if it is a threat, to the Rabbanut interest me?
6. and last, maybe in other words, if I only eat mehadrin hechsherim anyway, why should I care about a fight between 2 hechsherim that do not interest me or effect my eating habits or those of my community?
kol tuv
Rafi Goldmeier

To be brief, if this, kashrus, not specifically Tzohar, is a topic that interests you, you should join the group now, before it gets shut down again, to at least learn more about it while it lasts. There is almost always good, and even important, information being posted.

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1 comment:

  1. This is all politics (and jobs), especially considering that these people wouldn't give a fig about Rav Kook or the Rabbanut any other time.


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