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.