This Channel 2 News report documents the Beit Shemesh Rabbinate and Badatz Beit Yosef are prejudice against Arabs, instructing restaurants under their certification to hire only Jewish cooks. The representative of the Beit Shemesh Rabbinate is recorded during a phone conversation explaining they cannot tolerate ‘bishul akum’ and therefore an Arab may not be at a cooking station.
The report explains a café in Tel Aviv fired a non-Jew and when asked, the local rabbinate denied the allegation. However a recorded phone call tells a different story, that Arabs may work cleaning but not cooking. The same is true in Rehovot and Tzfas, the report adds.
Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau explains that there are local Rabbinates that are trying to “compete” with the private badatz hechsherim and this should not be the case in a place that is not mehadrin. Rabbi Lau continues by citing the regulations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel must be the deciding factor and these regulations do not compel bishul yisrael for Sephardim in non-mehadrin restaurants. He calls on the Chief Rabbinate and local Rabbinate to “take back control of kashrus” and stop competing with the private badatz hechsherim.
Badatz Beit Yosef explains the hechsher following piskei halacha of Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef ZT”L and the policy of insisting on Jewish cooks is not in any way one of discrimination but simply a policy of adherence to halacha.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)