Jerusalem Kashrut Alert

legitimate Jerusalem regular kosher certificate from Machane Yehuda Shuk

legitimate Jerusalem regular kosher certificate from Machane Yehuda Shuk

As I walked around Jerusalem earlier today, I noticed that many of the Jerusalem Rabbinate kashrut certificates are expired, past the June 22nd deadline. This prompted me to visit one of my favorite places, Machane Yehuda Shuk, where I realized most are expired.

This compelled me to phone the Jerusalem Rabbinate, and I learned that the expired certificates are not the fault of bureaucratic red tape or tardiness on the part of mashgichim, but the store owners.

It was explained to me that about three months ago, store owners were informed that as is the case annually, with this next renewal they will be compelled to sign the annual contract, attesting to their commitment to adhere to the regulations set forth by the Jerusalem Local Rabbinate. Those who signed have current certificates, which expire on 29 Elul (18 September 2009). Those who procrastinated are without supervision.

Confirming this for me was Rabbi Yitzchak Iluitzsky, who is in charge of the kashrut department of the Jerusalem Rabbinate. He stressed that in the shuk or anywhere else in the city, an expired certificate today means NO supervision, and stories blaming it on an inefficient mashgiach or the like are simply not telling it as it is.

Rabbi Iluitzsky stressed in our conversation earlier today that an expired certificate means the store no longer is under the supervision of the Jerusalem Religious Council.

A word of caution – the new current certificates, for fruit and vegetables (dark and light blue), the regular one seen in restaurants (yellow) and mehadrin (tan) have not changed their color and the only way to make sure is to read the expiration date!

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Chief Rabbinate Seeking to Establish its Own Greens Lab
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is working to establish its own lab to permit testing of greens sold as ‘bug-free’, known more commonly as “Gush Katif”, derived from the original firm that grew the halachicly preferable greens, located in the former Jewish community of Gush Katif.

At present, sample testing is conducted by private laboratories, an expensive proposition Rabbi Yaakov Sabag explains, adding it also can cause delays in handling and distributing produce at times.

Chief Rabbinate official Oded Viner explains efforts are underway to establish the lab in an expeditious fashion, but one must remember that since the Rabbanut is a government organ, there is bureaucracy and things are not moving ahead as quickly as they would like.

2 Comments

  • chaimd
    June 30, 2009 - 17:01 | Permalink

    one of the sores mentioned many times in your articals about the shuk was the store at the end of rechov etz chaim (the closed shuk) the store closed and now is selling fish.

  • David
    July 5, 2009 - 22:14 | Permalink

    Thank you for all the important kashrut information you provide, including this issue about not yet renewed kashrut certificates.

    Normal kashrut standard (not necessarily mehadrin) is good enough for myself and my family, but I had an issue just before last Shabbat which we had planned in a well known Jerusalem hotel. (A long awaited rest without the kids.)

    When arrived at the hotel, I noticed that mehadrin kashrut certificate had expired last day of Sivan. Might have just ignored the few days overdue, but as a result of the awareness that you (and others) are imbuing decided that I could only rely on the kashrut after I spoke to the Mashgiach (even briefly as at the end of the day, in my opinion, it is the Mashgiach’s work to maintain kashrut). If not, the hotel would have to provide us with meals in one of the other neighboring hotels that does have a certificate. I made it clear that without up-to-date certificate and without a mashgiach as far as I was concerned, the establishment was not kosher.

    Baruch H’ the mashgiach turned up with his family a few minutes before candle lighting.

    Because of this issue, I am sure the hotel were quick to organize their formal kashrut renewal today. It was not easy for me whilst waiting for the mashgiach, because my wife might not have liked it if we ended up eating in a different hotel because of my “meshugas”. It would be difficult to explain to my wife that just because there are seemingly “frumer” people (as if a black hat can define frumness) who were guests, lacking up-to-date certificate + mashgiach is a serious flaw. Especially because as these matters are often, and unfortunately correctly, pinned down to politics. As I said, the mashgiach did turn up, and this hopefully made things OK.

    If this reply forum can give room for discussion, or feedback from any of the Rabbannim who are reading, I would be very happy to hear.

    My questions or points for discussion are:-

    Was my criteria of demanding the necessity of a mashgiach, because the teuda was outdated by more than a week, correct?

    Can we assume the mashgiach would maintain the same mehadrin kashrut standard if the certificate was outdated? [This question is actually not relevant for me, but might have been relevant for other guests.]

    Can we assume the mashgiach would maintain at least a regular kashrut standard if the certificate was outdated?

    Did I make the right decisions in my demand to meet the mashgiach or would it be enough if I was allowed to speak to him, or the chief mashgiach on the phone? [This I had actually requested, but this request was, possibly quite rightly, not honored by the staff.]

    Should I have been more lenient because of the shalom bayit issue? For instance, if I did not make an issue, the mashgiach would still have been there in the end. (My wife was not around during my interaction with the staff, which made things easier.)

    Has there ever been a similar situation in any hotel, when the mashgiach hasn’t turned up for Shabbat? If the hotel had a valid Rabannut certificate in such a case, would we be allowed to rely on it?

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