Jan 8, 2008

who certified the kashrus of my Shwarma???

I received the above image last week but failed to understand certain aspects of it. I did some research and found out just enough information to allow me to post what I know.

The declaration above is a statement that was put out a few days ago by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. It says that they had a meeting a couple of weeks ago to discuss the situation in which there are many restaurants that put up kashrus certificates from other certifying organizations other than the Rabbanut.

The problem with this is that there is basically no oversight among these various organizations and anybody can open one up, declaring himself to be Badatz this or that. I can open one up calling myself the Badatz of RBS, for example, and then sell my kashrus "services" to various restaurants declaring them to be kosher l'mehadrin.

The restaurateur then hangs a copy of my certificate in his window and the unsuspecting consumer thinks the restaurant is actually kosher l'mehadrin.

The truth is though that I might never show up to actually check the restaurant. None of the consumers know my standards, if there are any. They just see a sign and assume it is under the authority of "the Badatz" and eat there, when the truth is that it often, in these situations, is not mehadrin, and there is nobody to talk to to find out information on standards and procedure.

So the Rabbanut held this meeting about the issue. They decided that any restaurant hanging such a Badatz would have his Rabbanut hechsher removed.

You might ask, so what? he has a Badatz hanging in the window! Who needs the Rabbanut when he has a Badatz?

the answer is that according to the law for a food establishment to be kosher (or a food product), it must have the hechsher of the Rabbanut. If the provider wants to get a Badatz hechser, it is in addition to the Rabbanut, not instead of the Rabbanut. So, if the Rabbanut withdraws its certification of a specific restaurant, the owner will not be allowed, legally, to display any other hechsher. Doing so would be a criminal offense.

Initially I was confused. The above notice, at least when I read it, seemed to be saying that the Badatz hechsherim would no longer be recognized and anybody using a Badatz hechsher would lose his Rabbanut hechsher. That would cause a major uprising against the Rabbanut, as there are many legitimate Badatz hechsherim that are very popular, such as the Badatz Eidah Hareidit, the Badatz of Rubin, the Badatz of Chasam Sofer, Badatz of Beis Yosef, the Badatz of Belz, the Badatz of Agudas Yisrael, etc..

Then I found out the above decision was only in regards to "unrecognized" Badatz certificates. I am not sure what determines of a Badatz is recognized or not, but often you can walk into a restaurant and find a Badatz hechsher you have never seen before. It may be referring to only these little ones that crop up every now and then. I do not know how it will be determined - I would guess the Badatz would have to apply for recognition with the Rabbanut, but that is just my guess.

So the next time you go to the restaurant and see a certificate from a kashrus organization you have never heard of and suspect for some reason, make sure at least that they have a Rabbanut so you know the food is kosher!

8 comments:

  1. Great!

    I've had so much difficulty explaining to my coworkers (trying to find a resteraunt we'd all enjoy) why the fact that a place writes "mehadrin" means nothing... and that even though I don't generally rely on the Rabbanut's hashgacha, I certainly trust it more than some random "Bada"tz Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin HaRav HaGaon Foobar" (or should that be "fubar"...)

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  2. I like the name of that Badatz!

    The only problem is that it does not say when it is going to start implementation. Once you know they are implementing their decision, it means any Badatz hanging on the wall has a little more reliability, even if you never heard of it..

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  3. Rafi,
    What about resturants using false certificates ? I heard burgers bar kikar tzion uses a fake badatz beis yosef certificate.

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  4. I do not think this solution/decision will help resolve the issue of forged certificates.

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  5. In Jerusalem there are many restaurants that have a "regular" kashrut certificate from Rabbanut Yerushalayim and an additional "mehadrin" certificate from another group.

    I met the mashgiach of one of these other groups and he told me the following:

    The Jerusalem Rabbinate only gives "mehadrin" certification to those that use meat that is under its supervision. If a meat restaurant wants to use "Beit Yosef" meat or "Mahpud", which is cheaper, even though the meat is glatt, they are not mehadrin according to the rabbinate. These groups were created to give such restaurants a mehadrin certificate.

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  6. B"H Interesting... I'm not too concerned about Israeli Law these days, especially when it contradicts, or even hints to any usurping of halacha, which seems to be often these days.

    I'm not a fan of the Rabbanut, per se, especially in light of its sometimes pointless authority, like that which you have pointed out, the Court's order to the Rabbanut to certify something kosher, etc. There are definitely elements of the Tzarist appointed "rabbis" mita'am here. SO far, the Rabbanut does still serve some purpose. Withe regard to kashrut, it assists Jews in Israel not to be eating mamash treif, making it easy for Jews who care or marginally care, to determine if a restaurant is satisfactory.

    In this manner, kashrut certification by the Rabbanut makes things less confusing for the stam Jew on the street, preventing too much abuse of fake heksherim.

    In theory, though, I think a restaurant should be able to display whatever heksher it wants. Unfortunately, there are many Jews onthe street who wouldn't bother to go research an unknown heksher.

    This can cause problems for the general public.

    Here is my heksher guide, published unfinshed, prompted by this post. Perhaps it can help visitors from hutz la'Aretz. I would add two things. I am not personally famililiar with Neve Tzion. ANd I also couldn't find a picture of Rav Shlomo Mahpud's te'udah, which I would proudly post. I have at least posted one which is "controversial," but I'll let readers decided for themselves.

    I will simply say that I'm not talking about Rabbanut Yerushalayim - Mehadrin, which has time and time again proven itself as a very good certification:

    http://wayeshevyaaqov.blogspot.com/2008/01/kashruth-certification-guide.html

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  7. Rafi,

    I was mentioning this to a kashrus professional I know, and he was very interested in this. Do you have a link to an article on this online? Perhpas on the Rabamnut's website (my hebrew isn't that good to browse around their site).

    I figure that would be a little more authoratative than your blog (no offense to your blog of course, as I think highly of it)

    Thanks!

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  8. lazer - the rabbanut website can be found here. It is in Hebrew. They have a section on kashrus, and have posted there pdf files of their updates. At the end of the most recent update is the information that I posted. I did not find any further explanation, but feel free to look around...

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