Barkan Winery: Shouts of ‘Discrimination’ Renewed

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There was recently an uproar in Israel pertaining to the Barkan Winery pertaining to the Badatz Eida Chareidis. The hashgacha removed Ethiopian employees from certain “sensitive areas” of the wine production, explaining there are Yidden who cast a doubt on their Jewishness, and since the Eida wishes to be machmir, they were ordered moved to different tasks.

While the matter was reportedly addressed, it appears it is not over, and it is once again in the headlines.

An agreement was reached by which the Ethiopian workers agreed not to be connected to wine production and distribution of wine products under the hashgacha of the Eida Chareidis until the end of the month of Elul. However, it is now revealed that in the final document, with agreement of the Histadrut National Labor Federation, but behind the backs of the workers, one paragraph of the draft agreement was omitted. The paragraph stated the winery would not use a hashgacha that required the removal of the Ethiopian employees from their positions.

One of the workers said after the removal of the clause that he felt that they were stepping on the wound and said that “I am about to collapse. I am not considered a kosher Jew.”

Barkan Wineries said in response to the publication: “There is no discrimination between Barkan employees, and the company has announced its position to all the hechsherim, including Badatz [Eida Chareidis]. There were talks with the Histadrut and the workers in order to allow the production of merchandise that was manufactured under the Eida Chareidis, and the company rejected all the offers it received. The merchandise will be destroyed. There is no more badatz hechsher and no worker has been moved or removed from his position”.

The Histadrut said in response: “Goods that have already been manufactured will be produced with the workers’ consent, and it will be clear that there will be no discrimination and the Histadrut will insist on that.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


8 COMMENTS

  1. Shame Barkan doesn’t seem to value the hechsher of the Eida. It is good wine but with the first class Eida hechsher being removed, it will no longer be on my “buy” list.

  2. this is such clear racism and makes a mockery of yayin nesech. It’s clear that there is less than zero chance that they will use the wine for nefarious, idolatrous purposes. They are Jews. Rav Ovadia Yoseph ruled that they were.
    At worst, it’s a safek for some charedim.

  3. anonymous Jew,

    I wish you were right, but thats not how YN works. It has nothing to do with the intent of the handler.

    MOST gedoly hador (Including R Moshe, R SZ, etc) held that they need to be m’gur in order to be considered jewish. R Yoseph was an outlier.

  4. JO, but now on mine. i try to avoid anything with eidah hashgacha. i also do not eat from iran and hamas and hizbollah and others who oppose the medinah.

  5. There is a safek about whether the Ethiopians are Jewish. This has nothing to do with racism. If one looks at the history of the falasha people, it will cast doubt on why they were accepted as being Jewish.

  6. Two things:
    A. The people did giyur lchumra, and are shomrei Torah. Many after serious talmiday chachamim. To say they aren’t Jewish is racist. They were migayer. There is a record from the beis din.
    B. The winery is facing a financial decision. The community that will only drink eidah chareidis is much smaller than the community that will boycot them if they follow the eidah. Most frum people in EY use other bdatzim.

  7. This is a topic that most, unfortunately, respond with their hearts and not from their intellect. Looking at this from a purely intellectual view point we see the following points:

    1. A Falasha who’s gone through a proper conversion is considered Jewish in all regards according to all opinions.
    2. A Falasha who does not convert and is not following Halachah (Shomer Shabbos, Kashrut, Taharat Hamishpacha, etc.) at best has the same status as any secular Jew. In regards to wine a secular Jew that touches wine renders the wine prohibited just like if it was touched by a non-Jew. This is the opinion of most Ashkenazi poskim and the opinion followed in practice at every winery that is under Askenazi Hachsherim. Rav Ovadia Yosef, z”l, held otherwise (I’ll explain more below).
    3. Ethiopian Jews are called Beta Yisrael. There is a difference of opinions regarding whether the Beta Yisrael are definitely Jews or not. Rav Ovadia Yosef, z’l held the should be considered Jews in the fullest sense and do not require conversion at all. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein z’l, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z’l, Rav Elyashiv z’l, and Rav Shach z’l, all ruled that the are b’geder “Sufek” and required conversion.

    Here is the Halachic ramifications from the above.
    Ashkenazim:
    Converted Ethiopian – no problem working anywhere in a winery.
    Secular Ethiopian – Sufek Secular Jew, Sufek Gentile. Either way in practice has “halachic status” of a Goy and can not work at a winery in areas where the wine is not Mevushal.
    Non-converted, but Practicing Ethiopian Jew – this is a grey area being that on the one hand he is keeping the Torah, but on the other hand he may be a Gentile that happens to be keeping the Torah which still renders him a Goy. This creates a Sufek Halachicly in issues such as this. I assume that most Kashrut organizations would require wineries to be stringent in order not to have such a sufek come up.

    Sefardim:
    1. Religious Ethiopians – can work anywhere in the winery even if he did not convert being that Rav Ovadia Yosef, z’l ruled them to be full Jews not requiring conversion.
    2. Secular Ethiopians – can work anywhere in the winery being that Rav Ovadia z’l held they are considered secular Jews and he rules lenient in regards to Secular Jews touching non-Mevushal wine.

    Point Worth Noting:
    According to the response given by the Bdatz in the video the issue at hand is only in regards to 3 employees. I don’t know how many Ethiopian Jews work there, but there were 5 in the video. At best, we might assume that 3 of that 5 are the employees at hand. That leaves two of them as not being affected by the Badatz demand. Most likely none of those 5 are affected. Thus, it is clear that any that are viewed as legitimate converts are not being treated with any discrimination.

    In conclusion:
    According to Sefardi Kashrut organizations there is no need to relocate any employees to other areas of the plant.
    According to Ashkenazi Kashrut organizations there is absolute legitimate reason to relocate those 3 employees.
    When the is a halachic reason to be stringent it is absolutely wrong to jump to conclusions and scream “discrimination” without definitive evidence!

    OUTCOME:
    Sefardim – will continue to drink Barkan being that there is no issue at hand according to their Poskim.
    Chareidim – even those that rely on more than just B’datz will probably not drink Barkan anymore.
    Modern Religious Zionist – most likely rely on Rabanut Hechsherim and don’t concern themselves with more stringent Hechsherim anyways.
    Chardal/Religious Zionists – many may also stop drinking Barkan being that they often also are concerned to be more stringent in Kashrut.

    FAKE NEWS – clearly the media outlets are purposely distorting this topic in order to glean as much money as possible from it. They have no moral values! They only care about making money! FAKE NEWS! FAKE NEWS! FAKE NEWS!

    Barkan – there is a possibility that in order to prevent further damage and more “FAKE NEWS” they decided to remove the B’Datz hechsher for now. They will probably wait a while and quietly relocate these 3 employees themselves to another area of the plant and then bring back the B’datz hechsher. Just speculating. Certainly, however, their finances will be affected by the move.

    PLEASE THINK THINGS OUT THOROUGHLY BEFORE BELIEVING THINGS YOU HEAR IN THE MEDIA!

  8. @jbd “The people did giyur lchumra”

    SOME of the people did giyur l’chumra.
    In order to not embarass the one who did not, the Eidah requested that several of the Ethiopeans move to work in another place in the plant.
    This is not racism, but just a different view, a more stringent one, on who is Jewish and so who may touch the wine.

    I seem to remember that some people, who have the most to gain were the most critical of the Eidah’s decision.
    It’s too bad one individual, who I have no idea why he did not submit to the giyur b’chumra, caused all this sinah and accusations…so sad.

    I am also not sure that the other B’Datzim that many frum people in EY trust will be so quick to take up this hechsher, it seems too controversial to get involved with, and they probably agree with the Eidah on the Giyur L’Chumrah.
    Those who feel comfortable with Rav Ovadia’s ruling will probably feel comfortable with the Beit Yosef, if they decide to take it over.
    I feel that this is a concerted effort by various groups to blacken the good name of a well respected organization, upon which many frum Jews rely for their occupations, to support their large families. Maybe the guys should have thought of those children before they went out and said all the bad things about the Eidah.
    @ DrYidd
    I also thought previously that Eidah was like the Satmar but I recently read that they claimed that they are not anti-Medina but they are just oppposed to the draft.
    Personally, I try to keep my politics and my kashrus observation separate.
    Even with an animosity based on personal experiences, I try to not let it get in the way of relying on hechsherim.

    That is with Jews, with goyim, I prefer not to buy from certain countries that I have a problem with.
    Here, I don’t have to worry about “sinas hinam.”