Vitamen Café – Hebrew U. Mt. Scopus Campus

The ‘Zman Jerusalem’ Hebrew weekly reports the Vitamin Café and Vitamin Meat restaurant located on the Hebrew University Mount Scopus Campus is threatening the Jerusalem Religious Council with a NIS multi-million lawsuit, represented by attorney Ashri Dahan. 

Vitamin Cafe - Hebrew U Jerusalem (from Zman Jerusalem Weekly)

Vitamin Cafe - Hebrew U Jerusalem (from Zman Jerusalem Weekly)

The article goes on to explain the NIS 2 million suit is based on the Jerusalem Religious Council publicizing on campus that it has revoked the kashrut certificate of the restaurants. The restaurant is giving the local religious council seven days to reverse the move, and to publish notices around campus testifying to the kashrut integrity of the dairy and meat restaurants. The newspaper adds that the university also published similar warning messages regarding Vitamin.

Owner Yaron Turjeman explains “the revocation of the certification surrounds a difference of opinion. They besmirched my good name and have told students who observe kashrut not to patronize my stores.”

Some feel the rabbinate revoked the kashrut certificate from the dairy and meat restaurants because Turjeman took on one of the ‘unauthorized’ mehadrin kashrut agencies, the ones the rabbinate have deemed unreliable and unacceptable.

Turjeman is seeking compensatory payments from the religious council to the tune of NIS 150,000 as well as a NIS 300,000 donation to the Israel Cancer Society. In his letter to the council, the attorney for Turjeman reminds the official body that in the recent State Comptroller’s Report on kashrut issues, sever deficiencies regarding the local religious councils’ supervision are cited.

JKN this morning spoke with Rabbi Yitzchak Iluitzsky, who heads the Kashrus Department of the Jerusalem Religious Council, confirming the council has indeed revoked the kashrus certificate from the eateries, dairy and meat.

Rabbi Iluitzsky stated he must set the record straight, explaining the reason the supervision was revoked was due to the simple fact that Turjeman over recent months refused to adhere to warnings delivered to him verbally and in writing by kashrut supervisor Rabbi Mordechai Lagami and the religious council respectively regarding “severe kashrus violations”. Ultimately explained Rav Iluitzsky, there was no alternative but to revoke the certificate, simply because the stores do not adhere to the kashrus standards.

Rabbi Iluitzsky adds that indeed Vitamin Café did take on one of the unauthorized mehadrin agencies, adding that under state law, the only body authorized to grant kosher certification is the Chief Rabbinate, delegated to the local religious councils, and bodies recognized by the local councils. The agency taken on by Vitamin he explains is on the ‘unauthorized list’, not recognized and therefore, not permitted under law to grant certification.

Rabbi Iluitzsky adds that the warning process and efforts to correct the violations went on for months until the decision was finally reached to pull the kashrut certificates.

One comment

  • Miriam
    May 24, 2009 - 13:52 | Permalink

    Thanks for this information. This could probably be a very good opportunity for setting straight what is considered proper kashrut observance in an eating establishment. If the problems that occured earlier, with documentation of when they were observed along with the notices sent, or delivered to the eating establishment, are made public then, I would think that the owner of the location will have no choice but to concede that he has erred. I think persistence in maintaining the fact that he was wrong and only the proper kashrut certification will do, along with this being made public is the only way to go. Also letting the owner of the establishment know why the kashrut certification agency that he has now chosen is not suitable would help. There are two problems here and both need to be dealt with.

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