Coming Soon – Kashrus Cops

27 Teves 5774
December 30, 2013
Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan plans to establish a kashrus police force. Currently, there is a very small force which is officially assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel Kashrus Enforcement Unit. The unit is composed of a handful of inspectors who are responsible for enforcing state kosher law around the country. While the unit does an admirable job there are two major problems. Firstly, there are not enough inspectors and secondly, the unit is too often busy enforcing state law which is not always in line with kashrus and halacha. That is to say if a store has a legitimate hashgacha but lacks a local rabbinate supervision as compelled by law, it is cited for a violation.

When the unit publishes its periodic reports to the public, it states a business lacks proper kashrus but it does not detail if it truly has no supervision or simply lacks local rabbinate supervision, once again a violation of the law, not halacha.

If Rabbi Ben-Dahan gets his way, and it appears he will, there will be a force of uniformed kashrus police who will be empowered to enter an establishment and request information, take food samples and demand the citizens identify themselves. This of course refers to stores that advertise as being “kosher” but do not have a hashgacha from a local rabbinate as required by law. In essence, the kashrus police will be enforcing compliance with state law, not kashrus.

Under Israeli law, a store does not have to have kosher supervision unless it advertises itself as being “kosher”. Once advertising as kosher, the business must have a hashgacha from a local rabbinate. Having a hashgacha from a private supervision like one of the badatz agencies without having a local rabbinate certificate is a violation of the law, and that is what the kashrus police will busy themselves with – a waste of manpower and resources.

Unfortunately, too many local rabbinate hechsherim have proven a waste of time and money for they do not provide an acceptable reliable level of kashrus. They were not born with a bad reputation – they worked hard to earn it. Baruch Hashem there are some local rabbinates that do a fine job and make sure restaurants are on the level they should be.

Perhaps the new kashrus police will generate additional state revenue in the form of fines but it is unlikely the new force will improve adherence to kashrus halachos around the country.


  • Shimon
    December 30, 2013 - 18:58 | Permalink

    I am a bit surprised by your tone in this post.
    You yourself are well aware that there are so-called “badatzim”
    whose certificates are not worthy of wiping… even a nose.
    And that there have been establishments under such “badatzim”
    whose products have been not only not “mehadrin”, but even “echt treif”.
    (Testimony available on request, in the fields of bugs, cooked unkashered liver, etc)

    Therefore, the state has a very sensible law: If you want a badatz, more power to
    you, but FIRST, have a Rabbanut certification of basic kashrut. That way, the
    badatz certification is for higher standards (if reliable), but minimal standards
    are assured. Don’t hide your unkosher establishment behind a fraudulent badatz
    and claim to sell kosher food.

    I think (at least I hope!) we agree that it is more important for all of klal yisrael
    that every place marked as kosher really is *kosher*, than that some individuals
    “in the know” will eat mehadrin, while others unknowingly eat treif.


  • moshe
    December 30, 2013 - 23:19 | Permalink

    Rabbi Ben Dahan is at present just the deputy of the Minister of Religious Services. Had he been the minister he might have had his way faster…

  • shalom
    December 31, 2013 - 10:00 | Permalink

    I think that God would differ with you re the “waste of time” it may not be up to our standards but they sure save a lot of people from eating treif food.

  • Ben Waxman
    December 31, 2013 - 11:45 | Permalink

    i want to see if these guys have the guts and backing to go into a place featuring a badatz eida chareidit heksher or rav rubin heksher but don’t have a local rabbinate heksher. my guess is that they will spend their time hitting places involved in the current kashrut revolt against the rabbinate and not touch the chareidi places.

  • Michael
    January 1, 2014 - 22:23 | Permalink

    Sorry Ben, but you are wrong. This is (partly) a ‘turf war’. Food establishments with reputable chareidi hechsherim were raided in Beitar recently and fined for not having a rabbanut certificate. The rabbanut wants the money, whether or not their guy even bothers to turn up (that is why there is this ‘mini-revolt’ of food establishments against the rabbanut). The system here in Israel is VERY corrupt.

    The agency giving the hechsher should not in any way be involved in checking up on the kashrus. If the rabbanut is the agency which is giving out kashrus certificates there should be a separate agency overseeing. That way the deficiencies of the rabbanut (which unfortunately are quite common) would also be shown up.

    Unfortunately, when the current law was passed, it was in the heyday of the old National Religious Party (NRP) and although it was ‘sold’ as a consumer protection law they made no secret of the fact that it was really a ‘badatz bashing law’. This was well before the fraudulent ‘batdatzes’ had even been thought of.

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