Pitot for Falafel Shops and Restaurants

12 Elul 5772

The following is taken from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Update 026/2012.

It has come to the Rabbanut’s attention that in many cases in cities around the country, “subcontractors” sell pitot to falafel stores and restaurants, pita breads that they purchase from various bakeries, usually in unmarked plastic bags to identify the source bakery. Alternatively they often deliver the pitot lose in a carton box, once again without any simanei kashrut (kosher identification). Therefore one does not know the source and this leaves a question mark regarding the kosher status.

“We are happy to receive suggestions as how to improve on this” the alert concludes.

This is simply absurd. The basics of a hechsher is to validate the origin and kosher status of all ingredients, including the bread. How in the world can any rabbinate give hashgacha to falafel stores and restaurants operating this way, but guess what, they do indeed.

This is the case with one of the large bakeries in Machane Yehuda, “The Shuk”. A non-Jew spends his entire day literally pushing a wagon around the shuk and the center of town delivering fresh hot pitot to many stores, all in unmarked cartons, laid inside, scattered about.

I called two of the hashgahos involved and asked how this can be. For one thing, no kosher symbol at all and (2), the delivery person is a non-Jew unsupervised walking around town.

So once again, for as long as the consumers continue eating without questioning, nothing will change. The power rests in your hands!


  • Gabbai
    August 31, 2012 - 10:39 | Permalink

    More than absurd. This is not a kashrus mistake that despite their best efforts, somehow happened; it is a systematic ossur way of operating. The agency giving the hechsher is guilty of fraud. How did the two hashgochas you called respond?

  • Ben
    August 31, 2012 - 15:15 | Permalink

    What’s new. This is standard Israeli policy.

  • Sim
    September 2, 2012 - 22:16 | Permalink

    Is one allowed to eat pita from any bakery if not makpid on pat Akum ?

  • Gemarakup
    September 3, 2012 - 15:22 | Permalink

    Sim – I think you meant Pas Palter (bread baked by a non-jewish BAKERY by non-jewish workers). EVERYONE is “makpid” on Pas Akum (bread baked by a non-jewish person privately and not as part of a commercial enterprise). I put Makpid in quotes because it is not a stringency but rather a universally agreed upon Halacha and they are not being “Makpid” but rather following Halacha.

    It’s not a question of kashrus. The bread can technically be 100% kosher and under the supervision of a mashgiach from beginning to end but if it was baked by a non-jew in a private setting it is Pas Akum. It works basically the same way as Bishul Akum. That is to say Bishul by a non-jew can be supervised by a Mashgiach and technically be100% kosher but you still can’t eat it because it is Bishul Akum. Unlike Bishul Akum, however, where it is halachically assur according to all (in other words everyone says you CAN’T eat Bishul Akum and they only differentiate as to what constitutes Bishul Akum), halachically Pas Palter (NOT Pas Akum) is okay (although many are Makpid not to eat Pas Palter and even more people are Makpid not to eat Pas Palter during the Asseres Yimei Teshuvah – between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – as stated in the Shulchan Aruch).

  • Gemarakup
    September 3, 2012 - 15:28 | Permalink

    Sim – Just to summarize:

    Bishul Akum is assur to eat regardless of whether it is in a private setting or as part of a commercial enterprise. It makes no difference how “kosher” the food is.

    Pas Akum is also assur to eat however if it is made within the context of a commercial enterprise it is allowed and called Pas Palter to differentiate it from Pas Akum. Of course it still has to have the appropriate supervision to ensure that it is kosher as well (which was the main point of the posting to begin with – lack of supervision and not necessarily the “Akum” or “Palter” status of the bread).

  • Simon
    September 4, 2012 - 15:38 | Permalink

    Given this is bread we are talking about, and not meat or wine, would a review of the supply chain, and sample checking of invoices and bills of lading should suffice. Isn’t Arab commercially made bread generally free of animal products anyway, notwithstanding the fact that most large commercial bakeries are mehadrin.

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