Jerusalem Rabbinate to Use Cameras to Boost Kashrus

17 Elul 5772

The Rav/Posek of the Jerusalem Religious Council Rabbi Eliyahu Schlesinger is quoted in the daily Maariv confirming the kashrus division plans to turn to technology to fill in when mashgichim cannot be present in “problematic” restaurants, those eateries that have had reoccurring problems. JKN was not able to reach Rav Schlesinger, but did speak with Rav David Malka, the operational secretary of the kashrus division.

He explained that representatives of the local rabbinate attended a meeting at the Chief Rabbinate of Israel attended by Chief Rabbi Yonah Yechiel Metzger during which the issue of video monitoring was discussed.

The Jerusalem Rabbinate has decided this is the best route for a number of reasons, with R’ Malka explaining that for many restaurants, the cost of additional mashgiach hours is too much for a small business to absorb. The placement of a video camera explains Malka results in a “one time charge” and this will provide constant monitoring of the restaurant without having to incur additional costs for added mashgiach man hours.

R’ Malka explains the basic infrastructure, a server and screens are already in place in the Jerusalem Rabbinate’s office, and on October 1, 2012 they hope to advance to the next step, signaling the system will be operational in the not-too-distant future.

R’ Malka explained that one can easily understand that technology permits monitoring a number of establishments simultaneously, thereby cutting costs. It must be stressed that the cameras will not be in place of mashgichim, merely avoiding the need to add mashgiach hours and costs to the store receiving the hashgacha.

Maariv adds that a number of the city’s hotels will be receiving cameras as well. This was not clear from JKN’s conversation from R’ Malka.

The use of cameras is the subject of dispute among some rabbonim in Eretz Yisrael, but for the most part, they have become an integral part of kosher supervision today, used by large operations such as Tnuva, and by the Badatz Eida Chareidit.

 

2 Comments

  • Chaim
    September 5, 2012 - 12:05 | Permalink

    I find this report disturbing.

    The stated plan is to turn to technology in order to bolster the supervision in “problematic” restaurants, ie. those eateries that have had reoccurring problems.

    In my opinion, any food establishment that has reoccurring kashrus problems despite having a mashgiach, has effectively demonstrated that they can’t be relied upon. Their “chezkas kashrus” (presumption of honesty and reliability), the keystone of reliability has been compromised.

    If they still keep on insisting that they want supervision, then they should be forced to pay the added cost of additional supervision. Instead of feeling bad for the “poor” owner who now faces higher overhead costs, let’s remember why this is happening to him. It’s only due to his OWN previous infractions. If you can’t pay for extra mashgiach time, then don’t do the kashrus crime!

    Locks only keep out honest people out, and are designed to help honest people maintain their honesty. The same is pretty much true with “Kashrus cameras”. They’ll keep the honest operators honest, and the dishonest operators will just have another hurdle to get around.

    From experience, practically speaking it’s impossible to cover every angle of a location with a camera. There are various “blind spots” that can be taken advantage of. All the more so, if a dishonest proprietor or worker is looking to “beat the system”.

    I call upon you, R’ Yechiel to echo this message with the appropriate powers to be. If necessary, bli neder, I’m willing to join you in meeting with them.

  • September 6, 2012 - 11:07 | Permalink

    I agree with Chaim 100% – these owners cannot be trusted and will find a way around the cameras just as they tried with the actual masgichim!

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