Kashrut in the North, 2nd Shuk Tour and More

shabbosKashrut in N. Israel – Open on Shabbos
There is yet another issue that is hitting the chareidi media in Israel, not a new one per se, but one that seems to be unfolding now, in the heart of summer season.

Restaurants and eateries located in the north, along areas of some of the most popular vacation spots, are in some cases listed as kosher with a kashrut certificate but are open on shabbos. The obvious question, even if they maintain a kashrut standard during the week, is who is watching the kitchen on shabbos? 
While tens of thousands of people are heading north bein hazmanim, the period between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Chodesh Elul, many entering stores with signs “open 24/7 – kosher”.

It appears the red light was lit by the chief rabbi of Kiryat Shmona, Rabbi Baruch Pechter, Chadrei Chareidim agency reports. Rabbi Pechter advertised that one should no longer rely on eateries under the supervision of Rabbi Shalom Levy, because some of those stores are open on shabbos. Rabbi Levy decided not to take the matter sitting down, filing a libel suit for NIS 100,000 in the Tzfat Rabbinate against Rabbi Pechter. The Tzfat Rabbinate is currently addressing the matter, and has instructed Rabbi Pechter to refrain from discussing the matter with the media since it is an ongoing case.

In one case the reports addresses the community of Shar Yashuv, in the north, which operates eateries and tzimmerim (bed and breakfast lodging). The owner of the complex turned to Rabbi Rushitzky for permission to operate on shabbos. He refused and revoked the kashrut supervision as they operate on shabbos, only to find he had been replaced by Rabbi Levy, who granted a hechsher the report adds.

The Chief Rabbinate forbids granting a hechsher to an establishment which does not honor the shabbat, but Rabbi Levy seems to have a different view. He was not available for comment but people close to him indicate the rabbi feels that providing a hechsher, he is guaranteeing the kosher standard for tens of thousands of people who would otherwise be eating in restaurants without supervision. When asked “what about shabbos?”  They replied he relies on Hashem’s mercy.

Asked what can be done, Rav Rafi Yochai, who heads the Chief Rabbinate Kashrut Fraud Division, he explained he is limited. The law does not permit him to fine rabbis, only stores and businesses, so in essence, he is powerless. He further explained the only agency that can address the rabbi, Rabbi Levy in this case, are the chief rabbis of Israel, who can remove Rabbi Levy from his position, quickly adding it is very unlikely that this will be done.

In his response to the report, Rabbi Levy states Chadrei Chareidim exaggerated, explaining there are only three restaurants with a hechsher operating on shabbos.  He adds the hecsher is granted “with a teary eye and a pained heart” to save people from eating in prohibited places. He adds that he saves many many people from eating in a place without a hechsher five days a week, and that includes many chareidi individuals who eat in the restaurants while traveling in the north as well.

Rabbi Levy adds there are two sets of dishes, for the weekday and for shabbos and yomtov, when the mashgiach is not present. The mashgiach is the only one with a key and locks away the ‘kosher’ set when he leaves for shabbos and yomtov.

As far as concerns that religious people may be eating on the wrong dishes on erev shabbos and motzei shabbos, he says there is no concern since on the certificate is details the times during which the restaurant is under his supervision, to avoid this specific problem.

There are two mashgichim present during the entire day. He adds it is impossible to send a mashgiach on shabbos since the restaurants are outside the t’chum shabbos’ – the permitted walking distance. In addition, the eateries are located in Shomer Hatza’ir type communities and there are no local residents who can fill in as a shabbos mashgiach.

Rabbi Levy insists that he is not violating Chief Rabbinate directives, explaining far off places may be granted weekday supervision under certain conditions.

The rav states that if the original report would have been conducted in a proper comprehensive and journalistic fashion, most of the accusations would have been dispelled.

JKN would also like to add that in the past, a hechsher was granted for cruise ship for weekdays only, while the supervision from the Rabbinate did not apply on shabbos. (Yechiel Spira – Jerusalem Kosher News, Israel)

alei-katif-california_p0112.    Alei Katif Alert – Not the Israeli Product
A recent kashrut alert speaks of insect infestation in Alei Katif California. I include this due to an email or two exhibiting confusion. This is in no way connected to Alei Katif insect-free lettuce and greens from Israel.


3.    Chief Rabbinate Kashrut Alert 022-2009
Please see the item regarding “Tuna Alert and Explanation. (http://www.jerusalemkoshernews.com/2009/08/chief-rabbinate-kashrut-alert-022-2009/)  I wrote “They also permit bishul akum” when a better choice of words would have been “they hold that this is not a bishul akum concern”.

2nd-kashrus-tour-in-shuk-aug-11-20094.    2nd Shuk Kashrut Tour
The second JKN shuk walking tour was held earlier today, with the third scheduled for this evening. We had a productive time according to the participants (see them on the website photo), touring and speaking for two hours.

Baruch Hashem all the tours are booked solid and there is a waiting list. Hope to announce future walking tours as soon as I can find the time and energy. Please, if you register, come. You have taken a slot that someone is waiting for. I know there is no charge but I do expect those who registered to feel a commitment to attend or at least provide adequate advanced notice. Thanks.

The next tour departs later today, Tuesday, at 5:30pm. It too is booked. See you then.

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