Hello, is Anyone Out There? Do You Hear Me?

12 Tishrei 5774
September 16, 2013

What has me the most frustrated about Jerusalem Kosher News is not the hashgachos, for sadly; I have come to not expect much from them. In fact, it is not them, but you, the reader, the kosher consumer in Eretz Yisrael that I blame.

For me it is nothing less than mindboggling. I field a growing number of emails daily, and for the most part, they read the same. How can you make it work for I am in Israel and eating out is a must! Sorry folks but it is days after Yom Kippur and we are in the heart of the Tishrei Yomim Tovim so perhaps this is a good time to get serious.

The Head of the Chief Rabbinate Kashrus Enforcement Division, Rabbi Rafi Yochai has written numerous times that nothing has contributed to the decline in the national kosher standard more than consumer complacency or apathy. When was the last time you asked “Where is the mashgiach” when dining out? And when you were told “He is not here” for one valid reason or another did you leave or sit down because you had your heart set on that particular restaurant?

Until such time you, the kosher consumer in Israel decides to become serious about kashrus, there is no hope of any change for the better. Permit me to cite a few examples.

1. Marzipan Bakery on Aggripas Street (Machane Yehuda): There is no teudat kashrus since Rosh Hashanah. I stand and observe as the tzibur buys and eats and enjoys. No one notices and no one cares.

2. TevaNet Health Food Store on Aggripas Street (Machane Yehuda): This is one of the busiest health food stores in the city. There is no teudat hechsher. No one behind the counter is wearing a yarmulke but we continue to buy our unpackaged items by weight. No one notices and no one cares.

3. Organo Spice Store, Shuk Machane Yehuda: The store sign reads Badatz Beit Yosef. There is no teudat hechsher. No one notices and no one cares.

Just so you know, I spoke with the hechsherim pertaining to the three stores listed, in this case, Badatz Beit Yosef and Badatz Machzikei Hadas/Belz. I know the status of these stores and many others which I do not care to list for I am simply trying to make a point. I will not share the status of the stores with you.

If you wish to know, use the URL link which will take you to the JKN Kashrus directory and call them and ask.

Or better yet, politely go to the store and ask. When you are told “don’t worry” or some form of this response, politely explain “I do not see a valid teudat kashrut so I cannot buy” and walk out. ONLY THEN will stores and hashgachos begin to get the message. If there is no loss of businesses, then it does not concern anyone!

Regarding my article about hashgacha on a sukka in a restaurant or hotel, the responses were ambiguous at best and sad and intolerable at worst with two exceptions. (In my opinion)

OU Israel:
A clear and defined response, taking the responsibility out of the hands of the consumer. The OU-ISRAEL puts it is writing and therefore, there is no ambiguity. That is what every hechsher should be doing but for as long as you continue eating out, during the year and on Sukkos, why should a hashgacha change? Why spend money on a teudat kashrut for a sukka? Why bother the mashgiach for the kosher consumer in Israel is concerned about taste, cleanliness and price – nothing more!

The second exception is the response from Belz, a clear “no”. That hashgacha lets the consumer work it out, not feeling an obligation to connect the dots and realize that without supervising the kosher integrity of a sukka, many patrons may fall prey to this stumbling block.

And while I am shouting, permit me to site another unacceptable example of an intolerable kosher standard.

Back to my favorite place, Shuk Machane Yehuda: How can any respectable hashgacha permit selling items known to be “infested” with bugs without a large sign in Hebrew at least saying “While the kashrus covers tithing and orla, it is no way relieves you of your responsibility to check items that are known to be infested, and in many/most cases, the bugs cannot be removed”. What was acceptable yesteryear is no longer acceptable yet the hashgachos have not kept up with the times. If you must permit the store to sell such items, at the very least insist on a prominently displayed warning sign.

Why bother for no one notices and no one cares. Therefore the array of badatz and mehadrin hechsherim in the shuk still permit selling such items, including but not limited to cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and corn on the cob. No one shouts and no one cares. How many of you have ever phoned a hechsher and asked “Why are you putting this stumbling block in my face? Why are you trying to deceive the tzibur?” No one notices and no one cares!

I dare say if the deficiencies came down to monetary issues, such as selling regular produce as organic and charging 40-60% more per kilogram the public would be less understanding, less forgiving and less willing to return to such a store.

Kashrus in Israel is in your hands and your hands alone! You must decide this Tishrei if you wish to continue following your eyes and taste buds blindly or perhaps assume responsibility as we must and make a genuine effort to get the kashrus in the holy land to an acceptable level.




  • Ben Waxman
    September 16, 2013 - 09:27 | Permalink

    What was acceptable yesteryear is no longer acceptable

    Why not? I don’t understand this claim at all. Anyone can go anywhere in the world, buy broccoli and check it according to his/her minhag (or not buy it). That is the way it always has been. What changed?

  • Suzanne Lieberman
    September 16, 2013 - 09:31 | Permalink

    Regarding the Jerusalem Rabbinate not giving a hechsher on the sukka. Just want to let people know that I spoke to the head Mashgiach of the Inbal Hotel and their sukka is built in strict accordance and under supervision of the mashgichim.

  • Suzanne Lieberman
    September 16, 2013 - 09:32 | Permalink

    With regard to the Inbal Hotel (Rabbinate Jerusalem), I spoke to the Mashgiach and their sukka is built under strict supervision of their Mashgichim who are all talmidei Chachamim.

  • Holly Pavlov
    September 16, 2013 - 09:39 | Permalink

    I, for one, would like to thank you for the invaluable service you have offered us. You have made me much more aware of the need to ask for and see the teudat kashrus and to speak to the mashgiach, in restaurants and simchas. I have also become aware through your website of the declining status of kashrus in various agencies, and even though I too must eat out for business reasons, I now stick to just a few more trustworthy venues. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf.

  • Shlomo Fisherowitz
    September 16, 2013 - 09:45 | Permalink

    Thank you for all of your very important work. I have been reading your posts for quite some time and followed your advice every time I came to Eretz Yisrael. Now that I have made aliyah, I am constantly on the lookout for the hashgacha pitfalls you write about and do take your advise on how to act. You deserve more than the simple yaasher koach I send to you.

    Will you be doing your shuk wals again?

  • rachel yadin
    September 16, 2013 - 09:55 | Permalink

    I agree very very much with your article!!
    My husband and I always check and ask and leave
    if the answers are not good enough.
    There is NO shortage of places WITH proper
    certification. Why people are lax is baffling to me.
    Thank you for all your work!!

  • Pith from Pinhas
    September 16, 2013 - 09:57 | Permalink

    Hear hear. But at least regarding corn on the cob, if you look for it you can now buy it fully kosher with the signature of none other than Rabbi Moshe Vaya, the highest authority on infestation. But more than that, this time they actually managed to produce the stuff cheaply!

  • C Greenberg
    September 16, 2013 - 09:59 | Permalink

    Dear “kosher News”,

    I agree wholeheartedly that it is we the consumers who should show the vendors that we do care about the Teoudat Hechsher,and if there is none or one not valid, we will just walk away…

    My complaint is that there are too few shops on Machane Yehouda with an excellent hechsher, such as Badatz and they are too far apart…

    I would like to see them gathered , I would buy all what I need in these “sure hechsher” shops and go home…

    When the other stands see how busy the one with good hechsher are…they will also “beg” for one…

    I welcome the new beautiful spice/nuts shop with a Badatz hechsher! on M. Yehouda.
    The fact that it is positioned near the main RD,encourages me to use it on my way out…

  • Shy Guy
    September 16, 2013 - 11:57 | Permalink

    At least we have voted with our feet. There are lots of restaurants which we no longer patronize – for a long time already. We’re much more limited to where we eat than ever in the past – much in thanks to JKN.

  • Akiva
    September 16, 2013 - 13:12 | Permalink

    Sadly running around shouting about a problem (that’s not in people’s face literally) doesn’t help. People don’t respond (much) to that approach.

    Marketing techniques, social engineering, and communal political interaction is required to maximize effectiveness.

    Marketing techniques: “Learn the secret underside of the kosher business” (everyone loves a secret), “Are you being ripped off by false kosher claims?” (no one likes to be a sucker), “Tasty Bugs in Kosher Food for Sale!” (shock factor)

    Social engineering: Free education booklet and program (videos/powerpoints) for grade school yeshiva children to get educated on what to look for. (Every school and rebbi is grateful for free relevant material.) Paskevilim “KOSHER FRAUD! – Did you notice the teudat kashrut was expired? – Did you see the sign said badatz but there was NO teudat kashrut? (not naming any store, just making people look)”

    Communal political interaction: Meet Rebbe’s, rosh yeshivas, prominent rabbonim, asking them to education their kehilot about the growing problem. Offer free flyers to hand out or notices to put up, with their name/institution on it. Ask for signatures on a Kol Kore’.

    Blogging has it’s impact, but it’s just one leg on the chair.

  • Menachem Nechemia
    September 16, 2013 - 13:53 | Permalink

    Thank You for pointing out what should be normal Jewish behavior. I also stand in need of correction.

  • Yael
    September 16, 2013 - 16:01 | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing all the info, everyday!

  • M. Rapp
    September 16, 2013 - 17:14 | Permalink

    I really appreciate your efforts to open our eyes to hanky panky out there. I have become much more careful as a result. But I come 3 times a year for short visits, and it is really difficult to get an up to the minute status report what has changed since my previous visit. I wonder if others have the same sense of being overwhelmed. Gut Yom Tov.

  • Yehoshua Coren
    September 16, 2013 - 17:18 | Permalink

    An important read [Hebrew] for all those concerned about bugs in their food.


  • Ben Waxman
    September 17, 2013 - 07:52 | Permalink

    When was the last time you asked “Where is the mashgiach” when dining out? And when you were told “He is not here” for one valid reason or another did you leave or sit down because you had your heart set on that particular restaurant?

    so i have to ask another question. why is yotzei v’nichnas not acceptable? if someone is machmir to only eat in a place with an on-site kashrut supervisor, fine. but those who choose to be somech on the lenient positions, why not?

  • September 17, 2013 - 10:48 | Permalink

    Without a doubt yotzei v’nichnas is acceptable in many eateries, but in a busy restaurant with many non-Jews in the kitchen, the situation often demands fulltime supervision.

    This is especially true for opening the store and prep time in the kitchen and at night when they close down.

    Too often non-Jews are permitted to open and close without the presence of a mashgiach or an owner/worker appointed by him, and this is a non-starter!

    It is unacceptable that in many places non-Jews hold stores keys, keys to refrigerators and freezers. This is kashrus 101 and it is time to get the system in order, at least for those hechsherim that have become too complacent and sloppy in their day-to-day operations.

    Tell me why one does not see a team of mashgichim in Machane Yehuda during the morning hours when produce, meats, poultry and much more is delivered. That is the time to be out there monitoring the incoming goods. Coming at 09:30 to inspect after the fact is not the same as supervising while it takes place and when dealing with the volume seen in the shuk, it demands a constant presence of the trained watchful eye.

  • Haddasa
    September 17, 2013 - 16:13 | Permalink


    “Sadly running around shouting about a problem (that’s not in people’s face literally) doesn’t help. People don’t respond (much) to that approach.”

    Excuse me, but your comment was totally inappropriate and out of order!
    YOU have chutzpah to be criticizing Yechiel for all the hard work he’s been doing via JKN for Klal Yisrael on a voluntary basis since 2007, while at the same time holding down a F/T job, being a husband and father!
    He took on a very important cause/mission – KASHRUT in Ir HaKodesh/Yerushalayim – BECAUSE he cares about Klal Yisrael eating KOSHER! Obviously, he had been witnessing way too much Kashrut Fraud (lack of hechsherim, no te’udot, fraudulent te’udot hechsherim, etc.), in diverse establishments (stores, restaurants, bakeries, shuks, hotels, catering halls, etc.) which caused him to, finally, do something about it, while the Tzibur just went along with the situation “as is”, and continued patronizing establishments lacking hechsherim, proper te’udot hechsher or even kashrut b’chlal!

    YOU have ABSOLUTELY no idea what Yechiel goes through, and what is involved, in order to post a Report on a continuous basis!

    How about:
    Very detailed researching of establishments, re: kashrut and/or hechsherim – as submitted to him with a question or just going out into the “field” and checking many different establishments in different neighborhoods; double checking info – which involves multiple back & forth telephone calls between a number of parties; speaking to several individuals involved (kashrut org/eatery/patrons, etc.); compiling info; often translating into English the latest Rabbanut updates, and trying not to step on toes of those he needs for future cooperation & information. These are only “some” of what I know that he does. Yechiel is meticulous about getting all the information complete and correct!

    He’s been providing VERY important information on Jerusalem Kashrut to the English speaking Jewish community here in Jerusalem, and for those who subscribe from overseas. He is doing “Avodat Kodesh” l’shem shamayim! If you don’t recognize it, then you have a serious problem! If you think that “shouting about a problem” doesn’t help, or calling establishments and/or Kashrut organizations and “shouting” about a problem doesn’t help – then just stick around and wait and see what happens over the next several months! Because, we are going to organize ourselves, perhaps in small groups and start going after different establishments, until they get specific hechsherim or they start losing business, as we will no longer patronize them!… And, read the comments on this page.

    “Marketing techniques, social engineering, and communal political interaction is required to maximize effectiveness.”
    As Yechiel is a one-man team & does all this work on a voluntary basis, please tell us, WHO is expected to do all this work AND pay for all your suggestions?

    You do have very interesting suggestions on educating the public regarding Kashrut in Jerusalem/Israel – issues and problems – from the young and up… however, let’s get REAL…
    Instead of YOU criticizing Yechiel, why don’t YOU get involved and volunteer your “time & money”, and begin all of your suggestions, as noted below.
    As a very popular American saying goes: “Put your money (and time) where your mouth is”! IOW, get involved or stop criticizing!

    Lastly, if you read what Yechiel wrote, the problem is NOT ONLY with the Kosher Consumer, but very much the Kashrut organizations (BaDa”TZ & Mehadrin hechsherim) – specifically in Machaneh Yehudah Shuk, as they are literally doing something hallachakly FORBIDDEN: putting a “michshol lifnei eever”! If there are Veg/Fruit/grains/sacks of ground flour/cocoa, etc. stores (in Machaneh Yehudah Shuk AND elsewhere) with the above hechsherim, which are selling produce that are usually known to be infested with bugs and/or worms, the management or the Kashrut Organization MUST post signs to advise the consumer that they are responsible to check specific produce items (obviously, this doesn’t apply to all produce that they sell) for bug/worms.
    In addition, said Kashrut organizations SHOULD seriously re-think allowing said establishments to sell such produce where these infestations, in many/most cases, CANNOT be removed!
    What good is a Kashrut Te’udah, even a BaDa”TZ and/or Mehadrin, if the products they are selling are not edible?

    I’m not a Rav, but if a She’ailah would be asked of a Rav regarding products infested with bugs/worms, he may just declare the products “not kosher”, due to the infestation. Again, I am not a Rav, but I can see such a Psak. If that IS the case, then how can Veg/Fruit stores sell products that THEY KNOW must be checked and most likely are infested? IOW – wouldn’t that be the equivalent of selling “non-Kosher”? Yet, they have the chutzpah of selling these items. And, they have a “double chutzpah” of NOT notifying the Tzibur they they MUST check the products for bugs/worms!

    AND THIS is where the problem of ‘KASHRUT’ lies ‘NOT WITH THE KOSHER CONSUMER, RATHER WITH THE KASHRUT ORGANIZATIONS’ and their leniency with Te’udot Hechsher! THEY permit establishments to sell produce & products that may be, and/or are usually infested with bugs/worms, as well as selling produce & products that ARE infested with bugs/worms, WHICH CANNOT BE REMOVED! On top of all this – the seller in possession of the BaDa”TZ/Mehadrin Te’udat Hechsher – DOES NOT CARE about selling you a product that is infested with bugs/worms… AND he won’t even mention that the product should be checked… HE WON’T EVEN post a sign advising you that you are responsible to check the product for infestation! He’ll even sell you products that are infested & he knows that there is no way to remove the infestation!
    How ironic! He’s so concerned with having a BaDa”TZ or Mehadrin Te’udat Hechsher, yet he’ll sell you UN-edible products and won’t even tell you what you should know!
    Serious Aveirah!
    Serious Fraud!

    Well, Akiva…. time for you to start emailing Yechiel’s message to all of your friends in Israel and overseas… and praising Yechiel/JKN for his hard work, mesirut nefesh, Avodah L’Shem Shamayim…. and start collecting donations/fun-raising for the “JKN Non-profit Fund/Amutah” (how about starting one, so that you can implement those wonderful suggestions for educating the Tzibur on Kashrut (Social Engineering) beginning with grade school (I’m quite serious about this). Perhaps you can work with the Rabbanut & Misrad HaChinuch, (Mayor Nir Barkat may even be amenable in getting involved when he gets educated on Kashrut & finds out about all the serious Kashrut fraud going on in his City – he’s running for another Mayoral term right now [keep in mind, the Muslims rely on Kashrut certifications, as well, since their dietary laws are similar to ours]), to organize such things, as well as SHAS and other organizations that, also, have schools. I would add Youth Movements, i.e., Bnei Akiva, Ezra, Bnos, Pirchei, as well. And, if you really want to reach out to the uneducated/non-religious & make an impact, while doing a Kiddush HaShem, go for the Mamlachti schools and the secular youth movements, i.e., HaTzofim, etc. I’m sure they have no idea about the bug/infestation problem!

    At the other end of the spectrum – contact all the Chassidishe sects & see what sort of cooperation you’ll get from them to come into their schools to talk about the hechsherim of BaDa”TZ/Mehadrin establishments, and especially the problems in Machaneh Yehudah Shuk, as mentioned by Yechiel on 9/16/13 and expanded on 9/17/13 concerning the opening & delivery of produce to the shuk, the need for a mashgi’ach tamidi at establishments, etc.

    You mention ‘Communal Political Interaction’ – meeting w/Rebbe’s, R”Yeshivot, prominent Rabbanim – for them to educate their Kehilot about the growing problem.
    INSTEAD, If I may suggest, a better idea is to organize a Kashrut conference with the two new Chief Rabbis; The Head of the Chief Rabbinate Kashrut Enforcement Division – Rabbi Rafi Yochai; City Chief Rabbis; in addition to the different BaDa”TZ & Mehadrin organizations; and any other individuals and/or organizations whom Yechiel feels could be of positive influence – in order to present the many Kashrut problems, which the Tzibur faces on a daily basis, and the most serious problem of BaDa”TZ/Mehadrin Veg/Fruit & other produce stores in the Machaneh Yehudah Shuk & elsewhere…. and how to solve these issues. No one leaves until all issues are discussed and solved!

    You mention handing out “free flyers” and/or posting notices…. to educate the Kehilot on the growing/current problem.
    Akiva – again, this costs money! Are you going to pay for this? And, who is going to meet with all these “Rebbe’s, R”Yeshivot, prominent Rabbanim”, in addition to composing the text of the flyers/notices?

    As I mentioned above, you have many good suggestions. However, it’s very obvious that you know not much about Jerusalem Kosher News, otherwise you would not have written what you did about all your suggestions – which cost money & manpower, nor would you have begun & ended your message with the words you used.

    I wish you much hatzlachah!
    G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
    Shanah Tovah,
    Chag Same’ach.

  • Ben Waxman
    September 17, 2013 - 21:35 | Permalink


    Without copying and pasting the relevant parts of your post, I am asking again: OK, broccolli and asparagus and cauliflower all have insect issues. But to ask dugri – so what? Am Yisrael has been eating these vegetables for thousands of years without any signs about “you better check for bugs”. No one has conclusively shown that anything has changed between the current situation and 100 years ago.

    So why the need for these signs?

  • tali
    September 23, 2013 - 17:57 | Permalink

    we’re with you and happy to make a stink in every store. we live near the shuk, and call hashgachos and email pictures to the rabbanut as needed. i would not buy a scrap of fresh meat in machane yehuda.

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