Kahana Admits That Tzohar Is Behind His Kashrus Reforms

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana in front of the Beis Din in Ashkelon.

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Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana admitted on Sunday that the kashrus reforms he formulated are based on the opinions of the rabbanim of Tzohar, a liberal Religious Zionist organization with similarities to the Open Orthodox movement in the States.

HaRav Yitzchak Yosef has already warned of Tzohar’s approach to giyur [which is next on Kahana’s agenda], saying that the head of Tzohar tried to convince him to mass convert Russian minors who would not be shomrei Torah v’mitzvos.

Tzohar’s self-stated agenda is to unite the secular and religious populations in Israel, a goal it unfortunately tries to accomplish through troubling leniencies in halacha.

Speaking at a media conference on Sunday, Kahana said: “My motivation [to implement kashrut reforms] is halachic, not only economic…My agenda in issues of state and religion, including kashrus, are known to all. From the start of my entry into politics, I declared that my path is one of broad understandings between secular and religious. My path is the derech of Tzhoar rabbanim.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. So now we see a new unexpected angle on the evils of the frumme taking any money from the Israeli government. The last one was the fact that Yeshiva Bochurim can be drafted (and girls too r”l), and now the Kashrus System which they control is basically useless. In the US we consumers pay for kashrus certification, not the government. I think in the long run that system works better (neither system is perfect, or even close, of course). But all our kvetching is pointless; if the shkotzim are in charge, then that’s what it is, we’re in Golus…

  2. YWN – you are being Motzi Laz on Rabbanei Tzohar by stating that they have “similarities to the Open Orthodox movement in the States”. Rabbanei Tzohar may not be the Rabbanim that I follow, but their positions are firmly grounded in Halacha and Mesora, unlike those of the Open Orthodox. It’s actually pretty ironic that it’s the Chareidi community, whose sole use of the Rabbanut is as a patronage organization, are up in arms about the proposed reforms. Those who actually use the Rabbanut seem to be OK for the most part.

    As to the level of Kashrus – the Rabbanut will still have oversight of Kashrus, in that organizations that want to provide certification will need to either be approved by the Rabbanut or by three Rabbanim who are certified by the Rabbanut to be the Rav of a city (and believe me, the Rabbanut’s Smicha tests are serious tests of Halacha). However, with the Rabbanut now controlled largely by Shas and Yahadut HaTorah, the Rabbanut’s mashgichim have largely been those loyal to those parties – as opposed to other qualified individuals who may be Dati Le’umi. There also, unfortunately, have been numerous instances of mashgichim who either did not take the job seriously (and therefore did not show up other than to collect their paychecks) or had no idea what they were doing (including people who were too Temimusdik – like one who went to Daven Mincha, at which time the owner brought in whatever he wanted). As such, there has been a strong push to tighten up by having different organizations provide Kashrus supervision, with the Rabbanut changing to an oversight organization rather than a direct Hashgacha organization.

    an Israeli Yid

  3. Comparing Tzohar with OO is ugly, untrue and unhelpful. Tzohar is an organization with some 800 members who are orthodox rabbis, which has done tremendous chessed and kiruv in Israel. They have identified numerous critical issues with the performance of the Rabbanut and have been seeking solutions to those issues. The issues that Tzohar has identified are never described or discussed in the charedi media, including YWN. If you believe that Tzohar have got their facts wrong, please provide your evidence and arguments, as Tzohar has done. If you agree that the issues (or some of them) exist, then please present your alternate solutions and your arguments as to why they are preferable to Tzohar’s. If you don’t have alternate solutions but believe that Tzohar’s solutions require refinement, please describe the changes you suggest and the arguments for them. Mere name calling is low, circumvents the issues, and will not give rise to anything good or positive. What I have said about Tzohar goes for Matan Kahana as well. I have no doubt that Matan Kahana and the Tzohar rabbis have yirat shamayim and are motivated by good and genuine intentions leshem shamayim, even if I disagree with their proposals or with the details of their proposals. A respectful, genuine, objective discussion would be helpful and interesting. Name calling is not.

  4. So what? All that undermining government kashrus will do, is to strengthen the hareidim (most of whom never accept government kashrus). The militant secularist seem to have forgotten that the primary job of the “rabbanut” was to keep the hareidim in line, since it is in the zionists’ interests to have the hareidim led by the so-called “hareidi” political parties that sit in the Knesset and live off of patronage, rather than having to deal with a unified hareidi community led by Satmar, BaDatz and Neturei Karta that would be willing to negotiate away Israeli sovereignty in return for Torah-based communal autonomy.

  5. The rabbonim of Tzohar are at least as great talmidei chachomim as the ones in the Rabbanut. Their hechsher is more reliable than the Rabbanut’s.