Meet KFI (Kosher Food Information for the English Speaking Community in Israel)

9 Shevat 5775
January 29, 2015

KFI: Who We Are:
KFI is a not-for-profit organization founded by a group of English-speaking Rabbanim concerned about the lack of uniform standards amongst the kashrus organizations in Yerushalayim. They seek to establish a minimum Mehadrin standard, as well as spread greater awareness of kashrus (and potential kashrus issues).

The Rabbanim of KFI have found widespread deficiencies, even in mehadrin eateries, in areas such as bishul akum, the absence of adequate supervision, checking of bugs, as well as instances where meat, chicken, and other sensitive items were left unsealed. Therefore, the Rabbanim have joined together to create a much needed system of independent verification of kashrus standards.

What We Do:
- We have established a minimum, reliable standard of kashrus supervision for mehadrin eateries, which meets or exceeds American standards. Any establishment verified by KFI will meet at least this standard. Details of the standards established by KFI will be made available to the public.

- We work together with eateries to raise their standards to minimum mehadrin level. – We maintain regular on-site audits to verify that these standards continue to be upheld.

- If the eatery maintains standards above those that KFI requires, KFI verifies that the eatery’s claimed standards are adhered to.

What We Do NOT Do:
- We do NOT set standards for raw materials or endorse the different hashgachos found on them. Rather, KFI publicizes an eatery’s list of hashgachos, and verifies that it complies with its published list.


We do not recommend any eatery. Rather, we seek to provide the public with the information that will allow the consumer to ask his Rav for an accurate and considered ruling.

Stay tuned to JKN for the soon-to-be published first restaurant report.



  • Suzanne Lieberman
    January 29, 2015 - 08:57 | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this very necessary undertaking.

  • Chaim Pollock
    January 29, 2015 - 09:00 | Permalink

    Wouldn’t it be appropriate for a group of Rabbanim Shlita who are seeking transparency to be transparent and identify themselves

  • Mrs. Susanne Kest
    January 29, 2015 - 09:09 | Permalink

    Thank you for undertaking this much-needed project. May you see great hatzlocho in being mezakeh the rabbim.

  • Nathan
    January 29, 2015 - 09:17 | Permalink

    Who are these anonymous rabbis seeking transparency?!

  • tzvi
    January 29, 2015 - 09:21 | Permalink

    I’m confused.
    On the one hand, you write that “KFI IS NOT A HASHGACHA!”.
    On the other hand –
    “We work together with eateries to raise their standards to minimum mehadrin level.
    We maintain regular on-site audits to verify that these standards continue to be upheld.
    … KFI verifies that the eatery’s claimed standards are adhered to.”
    If that is not hashgacha, what is?

  • Zvi Aginsky
    January 29, 2015 - 09:29 | Permalink

    Shalom , Is it possible to get a list of the names of these Rabbis that have formed KFI .

  • nachum katz
    January 29, 2015 - 09:35 | Permalink

    This is a wonderful initiative and very necessary . However we need to know which Rabbanim shlita stand behind this . Also the term AMERICAN STANDARDS is veryvague as the kashrus standards in the USA vary considerably.

  • E Greenblatt
    January 29, 2015 - 10:55 | Permalink

    Sounds great but who are the Rabbonim and what is their experience? There are many so-called Kashrus experts out there who aren’t so….

  • January 29, 2015 - 12:46 | Permalink

    Sounds like a worthy endeavor.

    I do agree with the Chaim that the Who We Are section should include the names of the rabbeim who are part of this project.

  • Mordechai Kuber
    January 29, 2015 - 14:33 | Permalink

    You are all correct that it is better if the Rabbanim would publicize their names. But one must understand that the culture here is not exactly American live-and-let-live. It is not impossible for a restaurateur who is losing business because he refuses to raise his standards to express his dissatisfaction in a hostile way. So we must respect the Rabbanim for taking the time and expending the effort to address a problem that is significant, even if they do not feel like dying a martyr’s death.

    I know the Rabbanim involved, and they are all serious talmidei chachamim, with modest kashrus experience between them. Although I am not officially a member of KFI, they consult me on all kashrus matters. I believe that they have managed to establish high standards without getting involved in the politics of hashgachos, for which they are to be commended. They will be publishing their standards very soon, and the names of the first two restaurants who have met those standards, and the details of the kashrus there.

    I realize that it would be great if they could already be at the finish line. But this is a work in progress, and they have moved forward patiently and with great attention to detail.

    In the words of a great man long departed, “You have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.” Slowly and patiently this job will get done, and our community will finally have the opportunity to confidently eat out without guesswork and blissful ignorance. It is long in coming, and just a little more patience and some thoughtful understanding will get us to the finish line.

  • Rephoel
    January 29, 2015 - 15:11 | Permalink

    As long as we don’t know who these Rabbonim are, the whole thing is worthless.

  • January 29, 2015 - 16:59 | Permalink

    Isn’t the Hebrew speaking population of Israel also in need of a service like this?

  • January 29, 2015 - 17:03 | Permalink

    Also, from “We have established a minimum, reliable standard of kashrus supervision for mehadrin eateries, which meets or exceeds American standards. Any establishment verified by KFI will meet at least this standard.” am I to deduce that kashrus standards in EY are not as good as they are in America?

  • AZ
    January 29, 2015 - 17:06 | Permalink

    your first two bullet points make you look awfully like a hashgacha. why not just publish the eatery’s (and/or its hashgacha’s) claimed standards and list of hashgachos allowed on products and whether or not they are met?

    also, who cares about american standards? tourists? we’re in israel and typical american standard is not considered mehadrin here. the tourists i know are still delusional and think “kosher is kosher” in israel. we, the locals, have much more of a stake in this game. i’m in contact with top-rated hashgachos and rabbinic subject matter experts on a fairly regular basis, in keeping with your recommendations to say something if you see something.

  • January 29, 2015 - 17:28 | Permalink

    please name your rabbanim

  • irwin lowi
    January 29, 2015 - 22:05 | Permalink

    I am underwhelmed. The hoshgochas from the US are to be the benchmark? Who is being referred to here as worthy? The OU where the most maikel opinion is what carries the day? I would certainly like more transparency but let’s be honest, the catfighting that takes place in the US is bad enough, of course it would be worse in EY where so much more is tied in to business of kashrus.

  • M Cohen
    January 29, 2015 - 22:30 | Permalink

    So Rabbi Kuber made it very clear that he is the authority behind this (or at least one of them), and the Rabbonim have modest kashrus experience. That’s why they are nameless. Thank you for the clarification Rabbi Kuber. Sounds like a bunch of precocious avrechim to me.

    Don’t be fooled, at the end of the day you’re relying on the Hashgacha to actually do what they tell KFI they are doing.

  • Y
    January 30, 2015 - 00:09 | Permalink

    Thank you for increasing awareness of kashrut standards in Israel, and although my personal standard is normal Rabbanut, I am sensitive that many people have higher standards of kashrut also in my own National Religious community. Also thanks to your newsletters and website, I have become more personally aware of the pitfalls.

    Recently I made a simcha where I hired the caterers from outside. They have a sephardi mehadrin hechsher which is acceptable to many segments of the chareidi population but not all. Because of your writings, I insisted that they also send a mashgiach and I paid the caterer a bit extra money for this.

    I actually wanted the mashgiach to be that of the hashgacha board – but when the simcha started I experienced a number of inconsistencies – including paying the mashgiach through the caterer and not personally, as I was initially told I would have to and there were a few other things that my feeling was that the mashgiach was private of the caterer and not from the hashgacha board – possibly meaning that the cutlery and crockery they brought was not that under hasgacha in the caterer’s own hall but the set they bring to other halls with or without mashgiach.

    On consultation with my local Rav – I was told not to make a matter out of it especially as there was no doubt that all the food was mehadrin – but I still feel comfortable in publishing the story anonymously to give an example of anomalies that can occur..

  • Chayim
    January 30, 2015 - 00:19 | Permalink

    Firstly two thumbs up for whoever put this organization KFI together there is a tremendous need for it.
    AZ- with all due respect, unfortunately it is a major misconception that US hashgachos are not as good as Israeli. In truth US hechseirim have a lot more chumros then Israeli ones. Before you make a statement otherwise please look into the matter- you will be very surprised.

    Also, if you will publish the eatery’s (and/or its hashgacha’s) claimed standards and list of hashgachos allowed on products and whether or not they are met. Then you will be going head to head with big and powerful organizations and as R’ Kuber posted can become hostile.

  • YK
    January 30, 2015 - 00:54 | Permalink

    I know 2 of these Rabbanim personally. They are well known English speaking Rabbanim living in Yerushalayim whom many ask halachic questions to and seek guidance from. They are both talmidei chachamim and yireh shamayim.
    And as for the statement “typical american standard is not considered mehadrin here.”, I have my own food business here in Israel and being involved with the hashgachos here I see that unfortunately the standards the so called “Mahdrin” restaurants keep to here unfortunately is not even close to the standards of an average restaurant in America.

  • A.F.
    January 30, 2015 - 12:03 | Permalink

    Mr. AZ, I do live in Israel, and yes, in Israel, “kosher is kosher.” The rest is purely politics and money.

  • Rephoel
    January 30, 2015 - 12:23 | Permalink

    While I appreciate R’ Kuber’s sentiments and wholly understand every word he said, the fact remains that it is unacceptable to run an organization anonymously.

    The whole thing stinks. To my mind, the entire enterprise remains worthless as long as we don’t know who is behind the hashgacha. (Whoops! Sorry, I forgot – IT”S NOT A HASHGACHA.)

    If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen – literally.

  • Ira
    January 30, 2015 - 13:21 | Permalink

    I agree with all those who request that these rabbis identify themselves. What if we find out eventually that someone like Rav Sherlo or Rav Stav is behind this?

  • Chaim
    February 3, 2015 - 16:25 | Permalink

    That there is a very disturbing lack of clarity and transparency in this field goes without saying.
    However, there seems to be one major underlying problem with this plan:

    There are currently several hashgachos that are widely considered to be of the ‘mehadrin’ standard and they, by definition, are claiming to confirm that the eateries they endorse are complying to their standards.
    If I’m understanding this correctly, KFI is essentially confirming that a Agudas Yisroel, Rubin and all the others, are doing what they claim to be doing in the restaurants that they endorse. It’s a hashgacha for hashgachos.
    Now by forming such a team they are giving a clear message (to me at least) that the hashgachos themselves can not be relied upon.
    In my naïveté, that seems to be a very bold statement to make without some big haskamos.

    I don’t need to know the names of the yungerleit being moser nefesh to do the work, but I think there is certainly a need to have some recognized rabbonim giving their stamp of approval on the necessity for this project.
    If rabbonim won’t say that, then they are saying it is acceptable for the community to rely on the hasgachos themselves–without the babysitting service.
    Feel free to correct me where I’m wrong…

    (PS – “YK” it is not very helpful to call yourself “YK” and then tell us you know people personally.)

  • Mordy
    February 3, 2015 - 21:09 | Permalink

    Keep in mind, he who pays the bills calls the shots. Why would the Mashgiach want to comply with all this? Are you relying on the store-owner to get the Mashgiach to do a job that someone else is paying him for?

    Bottom line – if you don’t trust the hechsher this won’t help.

    Anyhow, why not start your own hechsher?

  • Shmerel
    February 4, 2015 - 16:21 | Permalink

    Was interesting to see the KFI guidelines in next article. These are all basics that any decent hechsher should already be doing. If not, so will be interesting to see some young American Avrechim force tough Israelis to listen to them….

    Also, I was under the impression that they already have Shomer Shabbos chefs/cooks, so interesting to see the KFI will allow a mechalel Shabbos…is that a step up??? Rav Rubin told me all his cooks are shomer Shabbos.
    And what about nitzuk when re-filling a mechalel Shabbos’s or a Non-Jew’s wine glass with non-mevushal wine and he’s left a bit in glass? Why not insist on all mevushal wines?

    And later I saw allowing Rabbanut Mehadrin meat? Thought most Anglo bnei Torah don’t eat that…???
    Nor some of the hechserim that they allow….

  • Shmerel
    February 4, 2015 - 16:32 | Permalink

    PS just saw Chaim’s comment above and must agree that it does sound strange to come saying that the Badatzim aren’t doing a good job and this has been decided by nameless Rabbonim who have only modest knowledge of Kashrus. How do they know enough to challenge the experts in their field?
    Rabbi Kuber may know a lot about Kashrus but does he have the experience of Rav Rubin shlit’a?

    It doesn’t add up!

  • Shmerel
    February 5, 2015 - 02:14 | Permalink

    PSS And on a humorous note: They said must keep their names secret because they fear a martyr’s death from the evil murderous restaurant owners, and yet the next day we see the names of Rabbi Kuber and 2 other administers on the letterhead.
    So mimanafshach, if the dangerous chaps don’t read JKN news so tell us all their names, and if they do so why aren’t Rabbi Kuber and others terrified of the aforementioned martyr’s death? If they have special bulletproof gear let them share with those poor hapless secret Rabbonim! :)

  • Rephoel
    February 5, 2015 - 11:48 | Permalink

    As Shmerel seems to indicate, my impression was that most Bnei torah won’t eat Chasam Sofer hechsher – certainly not Petach Tikva.

  • David
    February 8, 2015 - 00:47 | Permalink

    Rephoel – With respect to chug chatam sopher – someone told me that Petach Tikva is considered OK with respect to the more stringent people. The B’nei B’rak Chug Chatam Sopher is a different organization and there are many that are not happy with their standard.

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