WATCH: Eida Chareidis Removes Ethiopian Employees From Winery; Rav Yitzchak Yosef Labels Them “Racists”

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(VIDEO IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)

Ori Elmanach, chairman of the workers committee at the Barkan Winery in Shomron explains to KAN News that he touched the wine and a mashgiach from the Eida Chareidis took it and broke the bottle in front of his eyes.

The story begins about a year ago, when the owners of the winery decided they wished to add the Eida Chareidis to the hechsherim on their wines. They Eida demanded the removal of Ethiopian workers from certain areas of the winery. CEO Gil Assulin explains “The situation is not comfortable for me. The situation with the kashrus is most uncomfortable for now, I have to move Yair, an Ethiopian worker, from his task and give him something else to do.”

When asked what the new position is, he explained something not dealing with the filling of the wine bottles, where he was.

We then hear Gil speaking to an Ethiopian employee, explaining that he needs the hechsher of the Eida to sell in a larger marketplace and this is their demands, not that of the winery.

The report then explains that the Yiddishkeit of the Ethiopians is questionable, and therefore, the Eida does not permit them to touch the wine. Journalist Uri Elkayan speaks with the Eida mashgiach in the winery, Aharon, asking him why the policy is so. He explains it is not his policy, directing them to the head mashgiach.

Chief mashgiach in the winery, Yosef Frumowitz explains it is known that some Ethiopians have undergone giyur, while others have not. Due to the safek, they are stringent.

The Ethiopian employees in the winery, who are shomer Shabbos, are asking why they are discriminated against. Tempo, the parent company of Barkan Winery explains that as per the agreement with the Eida Chareidis, only religious Jews may be assigned to certain areas of the winery. About 10% of the employees of Tempo in other lines are Ethiopian.

The Eida told KAN News that due to their commitment to wine consumers who are ‘Shomrei Kashrus’, the badatz is as careful as possible regarding one touching wine who may prohibit it, and this is not done to discriminate against any employee. Three employees were reassigned in the factory to avoid insulting any one employee personally.

Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef responded harshly against the kashrus of Badatz Eida Chareidis.

Rav Yosef said, “I view with great severity the directive issued by those who call themselves a kashrus body, to disqualify observant Ethiopian workers from manufacturing wine.”

The Chief Rabbi added: “There is no explanation for this directive other than pure racism, and the Ethiopian immigrants are Jews in every respect … It is highly doubtful whether a kashrut body that considers itself as being so strict and harmful to the whiteness and bloodshed of other Jews can be trusted solely because of the color of their skin”

After an outcry by political figures and Israel’s chief rabbi, and calls on social media for a boycott, Barkan announced Tuesday evening that its Ethiopian workers would return to work as usual and not be prevented from coming in contact with its wine.

The employees will return to the their jobs at Barkan on Wednesday morning, Kan reported.

“The Tempo-Barkan group promotes equal treatment and opposes any manifestations of racism or discrimination,” the company said in a statement. “Since we found ourselves in a situation which was not of our making, and understood that we were being dragged into a political [conflict] of one sort or another — and since all our employers are equally dear to us — the director of the company has immediately instructed to not remove any workers from their positions.

“It should be stressed that in any case, even if any workers had been moved from their positions, it would not have impacted their livelihood.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




17 COMMENTS

  1. Eida rabbis hold Ethiopian jews are not jews. They are entitled to their opinion. But instead of determining which employees underwent a geyrus that is acceptable to eida and which did not, they banned all the employees “out of suhfake”. Where is the concern that they are spilling the blood of full converted Jews, you know, “out of suhfake”?

  2. Good on the Chief Rabbi for calling a spade a spade. The racism against non-European-descent found amongst some of the groups in Israel calling themselves Chareidi is abominable.

  3. If you want kosher wine with the eida hechsher, then no eithiopians, however if you are lenient, take beis yosef, they will give hechshers to all treif in exchange for good money….

  4. Very disturbing… There is a chiyuv of V’ahavtem e’s ha ger, why wouldn’t there policy dictate to research each employee on a one to one basis. If a valid geirus was done then they are going K’neged a halacha. This from the very group that is supposed to be upholding halacha..

  5. This is not racism. It has nothing to do with skin color. There is a group of people who were not at all connected to the main body of Jews, but consider themselves Jews. Their halachic status is therefore in doubt, and is disputed among poskim. If there was no doubt regarding their status (e.g., they all converted mi’safek) the Eidah would not treat them differently than any other Jews. If there were white workers whose status was in doubt (and this does sometimes occur), they would be treated the same as these workers.
    I do not know details. Perhaps there was gross insensitivity in how this was handled. And I truly feel bad for the workers who were hurt. But it is not racism.

  6. Garlic, do you have evidence that beis yosef takes bribes? Many Rabbonim in Israel who I have spoken to about beis yosef have told me that it is a very good hechsher. I am asking because I really want to know.

  7. “And then Israeli Jews want to know why us American Jews prefer not to live in israel…”
    I give up, why? Because you prefer not to follow halacha? Now I get it . . .

  8. No one in Israel who knows the hechsherim scene and is makpid about kashrus will go near the Beis Yosef hechsher. Unfortunately, many haredi visitors who only eat or drink from first-class hechsherim in their home countries are nichshal in Israel.

  9. @ Garlic

    UHHHH dont talk to quick on the Sefardim Beis Yosef Hechsher. Are you soooo sure and arrogant to say that Eidah and the other Ashkenazim Hechsherim are not taking “good Money in exchange”.

    I am a Gerrer chassid and ashkenazi. i personally dont like the people of the Eida and would not trust them with my money. But i dont talk against the Sefardim neither. i am realistic that every hechsher or mashgiach turns an eye on the other side.

    BE CAREFULL WHOM YOU MAKE A TZADDIK ON WHOM NOT.

    IF YOU CALL YOUR SELF A FRUM PERSON YOU KNOW THAT ONLY THE ABOVE KNOWS WHO IS “TOCHA KEBAROH”.

    have a good day

  10. And if you want Lashon Hara……listen to “garlic”.

    I agreed to the beginning of what you said. Anyone can choose the level of Kashrus although they should have found a better way not to embarrass them.
    But the end of your statement reveals pure sinas Chinam.

  11. Kashrut must be kept separate from politics. Eida and its consumers have every right to question the halachic status of certain individuals or groups. Those crying racism are the first ones to avoid employing ashkenazy or chareidim!

  12. Why not just call the entire halachah of Yayin Nesech “racist” while we’re at it? Why not just rip out those halachos altogether like the Conservative Reform Jews do because they aren’t PC enough?

  13. Garlic.. Something smells funny.

    How do YOU know you are even Jewish forget about the type of Jew you are. Judging by your comment you are of Ashkenaz extract. But be very careful how you speak. Your mishpacha who came from Ashkenaz might not be fully Jewish. I contend like many historians that your ancestors were probably raped by some Kozaks which makes you a Jew halachicly speaking but less then a jew then Ethiopians if you will. You are an ignorant fool.

  14. Neville, This is not ignoring halacha, this is asking for the Hechser to assess the Gerus status of individual Ethiopians, to see if they halachicly are Yidden, instead of treating them all like a safek. This is not against Halacha, as it works with Halacha to determine the status, and the current position may be against halacha, to treat a group of safek geirim as safek geirim, instead of removing the safek, and claiming this one is vadai a Yid, so no yayin nesech. this one didn’t get proper gerus, so there is Yayin nesech concerns, this one we keep a safek etc.: V’ahavtem Es HaGer.