Israel’s Un-Kosherfest

18 Kislev 5771
November 25, 2010
israfood-fair3At times, perhaps more often that I would care to admit, I am compelled to realize that there is a difference between being “Israeli” and being “Jewish”. I don’t think that is the way things should be, but this painful reality has tapped at my door many times during close to three decades in Eretz HaKodesh. For those who know me personally, you may be aware that the family runs the gamut, from those who serve in elite IDF combat units, to those who warm the benches of the beis medrash fulltime. We are proud of them all!

Yesterday, my dear friend Gershon Markowitz and I decided to take a trip, to attend the 27th Annual International Exhibition for Food and Beverage, billed ‘israFood’. We have attended them in the past, but a number of years ago, decided to call it quits.

Unlike a similar “Jewish” event in the United States, Kosherfest, the word kosher is not mentioned in the title or the promotion of the “Israeli” event. The event is hosted by the Stier Group and one may see photos of the show on the website .

This year, there was event a separate section from the Palestine Authority. You cannot get much less kosher than non-Jewish food booths, including cold cuts, wines and more. here too, the crowd was more than happy to taste the samples.

So why am I sharing this with readers? Good question, perhaps to vent my frustrations. I must add however, in a positive light, that food manufactures are indeed increasingly aware of the growing mehadrin marketplace, and many more foods than seen in previous years have a mehadrin hechsher. That is encouraging. On the less positive side, too many participants in this event are all too proud to wave their secular flags, enjoying the finest of the non-kosher world, imported items from around the globe, and a far cry from anything representing Jewish halachically compliant culinary.

Sadly, anyone who cares about kashrus attending the annual food event would have to pack a lunch, as we did, for the foods offered presented many halachic challenges, including simple kashrus, bishul yisrael, stam yeinam (wines), pas akum and much more. We were pained and saddened just how many people exhibiting outward signs of being Shomer Torah and Mitzvos were eating freely, that Jewish thing, unable to pass up the free samples, whether a glass of wine, liqueur, cooked product, humos and other salads, or just dunking bread into olive oil samples to taste.

I did take a look at the two kiosks operated by the convention center, offering dairy or meat menus, in the hope of a kosher identity card, but both were quick to confirm my suspicion, no teudat hechsher.

I guess the point is that this annual food event is not to bash Israel, but to highlight what I have been preaching, that not everything in Israel is kosher, yet alone mehadrin. The free samples in Machane Yehuda and Malcha Mall have no more of a hechsher at times that the food at this event!

Many of the jelly, caramel, chocolate, glazed, coated and other donuts sold at Malcha Mall, the Shuk, on the streets of downtown Israel and natiownide simply do not have a hechsher, yet there are lines to purchase them, in the name of Chanukah no less.

Perhaps we can hope that organizers will one day attend the Kosherfest in the US, and learn that an Israeli food fair should also be a Jewish food fair.


  • Edgy
    November 25, 2010 - 19:49 | Permalink

    The reference to “that jewish thing,” is untrue, was wholly unnecessary, self-deprecating, promoting a stereotype found in anti-semitic writings, and slanderous of the Jewish people as a whole.

  • Batya
    November 28, 2010 - 21:56 | Permalink

    Too many people try not to “ask too many questions” and like to think that kosher is so simple.
    You could have tapped people on the shoulder and asked them which hechshar their food has, explaining that you want to “save time.” Then try to drag them along “Elkanah” style from place to place, adding more people and showing them by letting the workers say:
    “No hechshar.”

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