In what appears to be a growing trend, eateries in Yerushalayim are challenging state law and the Jerusalem Rabbanut Kashrus Department. Store owners have been meeting and gaining support as a group, deciding the kashrus provided by the Jerusalem Rabbinate is not what it should be, prompting them to save the money and operate as “kosher” without the supervision.
While the religious public at large will not eat in a restaurant without a hashgacha, many Jews who view themselves as shomer shabbos will, and the Rabbanut is fearful that if the trend continues it will result in people eating in restaurants that lack proper kashrus supervision since many well-intending restaurant owners are ignorant of many halachos pertaining to kashrus.
Jerusalem Rabbinate posek HaGaon HaRav Eliyahu Schlesinger told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) on Thursday morning 16 Cheshvan 5773 that operating as “kosher” without kosher certification from a local rabbinate is illegal and store owners will face fines. When the rav tried to challenge the facts presented regarding the cost of kashrus for restaurants he came under fire by the radio host, who requested that “Rather than simply discarding the statements as incorrect, please address the issues at hand”.
The rav accused the radio host of speaking without sufficient knowledge on the subject at hand.
Rav Schlesinger explained the cost to the rabbinate is symbolic, a mere 600 NIS annually, but this of course does not include the cost of the mashgiach. One store owner explains he was requested to pay 1,000 NIS monthly for the mashgiach, which he explains he cannot afford.
Rabbi Schlesinger explained “just as a lawyer and doctor cannot advertise themselves as professional without a license, and regarding kashrus, the same is true. One who sets the guidelines and the level of kashrus is the local rabbinate in each municipality and in order to accomplish this a teudah and mashgiach is required. If you have a complaint regarding a mashgiach who is a no show, then he should not be paid. No one should or is expected to pay a mashgiach when he does not report for work.”
Yonatan, a store owner, feels the mifakeach, the inspector must be responsible for the level of kashrus, adding “I do not feel that if a store has a teudat kashrus from the rabbinate it is necessarily kosher based on what I see in reality”.
Rabbi Schlesinger concluded by stating “if you advertise as being kosher without a teudah from the local rabbinate, in this case Yerushalayim, you are breaking the law”.