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Aug 26, 2013

Does Mehadrin mean extremism?

Does a mehadrin hechsher indicate increasing levels of extremism in a city?

Meretz thinks it does.

According to Kikar, a coffee shop in Ranaana recently got a mehadrin hechsher. The manager of the shop used Facebook to spread the word around town and sent out invites. Among the many pages on which the invitation was placed, the page of the Ranaana branch of the Meretz party was included.

As a response, the Meretz person wrote that they wish the coffee shop much success and plan to come visit, but it is a shame that they got a mehadrin hechsher.

If it was me reading that, I would have just moved on, no surprise there, after all it is Meretz. In fact it was relatively nice - they did not ban the shop or badmouth it. They expressed their disfavor with the extra religious hechsher, which they feel is unnecessary, but still said they would come visit and wished the owner success.

Other Facebook users who saw the interaction got upset with Meretz for badmouthing the hechsher and wrote so in responses to the Meretz comment.

Meretz responded to the complaints by saying "Israel has a Rabbanut with religious councils who are responsible for the kashrut system. The mehadrin kashrut is run by private groups who cause prices to increase due to the cost of the mashgiach (and we all know how thorough their work is) on to the consumer and the products. There is no reason to support mehadrin products, and definitely not for organizations like the Badatz Eida Hachareidis which is an extreme and closed organization... The restaurants choice to get a mehadrin hechsher in Ranaana is a phenomenon that has not existed before and it testifies to a certain level fo increasing extremism and a stringent approach by which the religious community in town is being pulled.. It is important to differentiate between kashrut and mehadrin kashrut."

What do you think - does mehadrin automatically mean extreme? Maybe the issue is not in Ranaana. Near Ranaana there are many office buildings bringing people form around the country. Maybe the proprietor of this shop saw an opportunity to bring in business from the office buildings that nobody else was attracting, and it has nothing to do with extremism in Ranaana. Or maybe it does. Or maybe there are some "more religious" people in Ranaana, people who have always been there but never ate out because there were no restaurants catering to their culinary needs. This restaurant decided to attract them locally instead of watching them all leave town to go eat in places like Netanya, Bnei Braq, Ramat Gan and others.

Does one restaurant getting a mehadrin hechsher indicate anything specific other than that the proprietor thinks he will have enough new customers to justify the additional cost?

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  1. We can assume that the proprietor is in business to make money, right? What could be wrong with getting a mehadrin hechsher if they think it would be good for business? We only eat in restaurants with mehadrin hechshers. One of our children recently moved to Ra'anana and we've been looking for the mehadrin restaurants. We've been to two, so far, and know about a couple of more we plan to try out. The more the better. From my skimming of the article in Hebrew, I don't see the name of the restaurant in question. Do you know what it is?

  2. The Meretz statement is problematic for two reasons:
    1) It's not the Eidah Charedit, so there's no point bringing up their extremism. This betrays a "they all look the same to us" mentality.
    2) It's not even private group. The "Mehadrin" hechsher is given by the Rabbanut!

    1. yama - do you know which restaurant it is? and what hechsher - is it rabbanut ranaana l'mehadrin, if this exists?

  3. If "mehadrin" heksherim means extremism, then what would Meretzniks say if the gov't started following halakhoth for running a gov't, fighting a war, setting up a Sanhedrin, and building the Miqdash, not to mention conquering the land (properly)?

    Of course, they don't have to worry about such things with this gov't.

  4. Important issue to discuss..

    There has to be various hechsherim which those of different Torah Observance follow and there must be a Rabbanut Hechser for the country at large. Two changes should be put into effect:
    1. Raise the standards of the Rabbanut hechser so that it is workable for a larger segment of society with standards that are upheld, mashgichim that are more accessible and publicize the changes.
    2. Have a Mehadrin hechser (which has no connect to the Edah) and let it be known what the standards are and how they are implemented.

    As a Torah Observant Jew I look for Mehadrin and would like to minimize the hold that Badatz has on kashrut...for many reasons.

    1. Go! Rav Rubin!! :-D

      More and more in Jerusalem I see places switching from EH to him,...even in Geulah.


  5. THERE'S A MEHADRIN CAFE IN RAANANA? why didnt you tell me?! ok, new rule: anytime you hear about someplace in Raanana being mehadrin... inform me RIGHT AWAY!


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