Beit Shemesh Rabbinate Under Fire for Preferring Jewish Cooks


kosherThis 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)


  1. If I were Jewish I would most definitely want Kosher. Who gave this point political resistance? If the Arab were Jewish, then that would be a diferent problem. I don’t know how they do it in the US, but follow their protocol.

  2. 1. No one holds that Bishul Yisrael precludes hiring goyim – it has to do with lighting the stove (and the like). Kosher restaurants everywhere else in the world hire goyim. Is there another factor?

    2. Why would you prefer a secular Israeli who hates Torah over a non-Jew who couldn’t care less. The latter will usually do as he/she is told, but the former considers it a “commandment” of his culture to fight kashruth.

    3. Since one hecksher is Sefardi, it might relate to the fact that the non-frum Jewish cooks are traditional Sefardim, and they are encouraging hiring their own relations.

    4. A government hecksher is inherently compromised since it is working for a non-Jewish (not based on Torah) government, and knows that one buttering their bread is not frum.

  3. @akuperma

    The Ben Ish Hai says that a Jew may eat food prepared by a gentile if a Jew took part in the cooking process. Even if the Jew cooked the food only slightly, and the gentile then completed the process, the food is permissible for consumption. It should be noted, however, that Sephardic custom requires that the Jew participate in the actual process of cooking. It does not suffice for a Jew to simply kindle the flame or turn on the oven; only if the Jew took part in the actual cooking does the food remain permissible despite the gentile’s involvement.

    Ashkenazim generally follow the view that one may partake of food prepared by a gentile if a Jew kindled the flame used for cooking. According to this view, kindling the flame is considered involvement in the cooking process, and once a Jew is involved in this process, the food is permissible. Sepharadim, however, do not follow this view, and require that the Jew be involved in the actual cooking.

    This poses a problem for a Sepharadi who wishes to eat in a restaurant under Ashkenazic Kashrut supervision. Generally, these restaurants rely on a Jew’s kindling of the flame, and allow gentiles to perform all the cooking. A Sepharadi who eats in such a restaurant should request that a Jew be involved in the actual cooking of the food he orders. Hacham Ovadia Yosef, in his work Yehaveh Da’at, rules that if this is not possible, then the Sepharadi may nevertheless partake of food in the restaurant.

    quoted from dailyhalacha dot com

  4. Akurperma: bishul akum is different for sedardim. They hold that a got participating in any part of the cooking process renders it bishul alum. And to them, only bishul yisrael is kosher.

  5. Also, the bet shemesh rabbanut is one or the best in the country. They enforce their standards very well. Rav Skpetor ZTL built a well oiled machine and many people are somech on them for mehadrin that wouldn’t do so in other cities.

  6. Akuperma – To avoid Bishul Akum by sefardim, a Jew must have been involved in the cooking, either placing the food in the oven, placing the food on the grill, or flipping the item that is already on the grill. Lighting the stove/grill is not enough to qualify as Bishul Yisrael for sefardim. Therefore it makes sense that those hechsherim will not allow non-Jewish cooks, because although the Jew doesn’t have to do all the cooking to be considered Bishul Yisrael, it can be very easy for some specific items to get handled/cooked only by the non-Jewish cook if you allow a non-Jewish cook.
    Therefore these hechsherim are insisting on only Jewish cooks.

  7. @akuperma
    You talk about a fringe group of seculars as if they are all seculars, yet when the same happens to Haredim you complain, you are motzi shem ra on jews both religious and not yet religious in points 2, 3 and 4.

    As far as 1 goes every kashrus agency has it’s chumros…
    After all the whole aim of the issur is to prevent mingling we found nice technicalities around it and now we mingle and see the results in the reports of Yad LeAchim, Live and Learn and similar organizations.

  8. Akuperma – do you learn Halacha? Dozens of Poskim, the Shulchan Aruch and Vilna Gaon included, hold that a Jew must do the actual cooking. Only the Rema allowed one to simply turn on the fire! Learn, before you talk, learn!