In a troublesome ruling, Israel’s High Court this week ordered the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to issue a kashrus certificate to a Jewess who by her own definition if a Jew for Yeshu. She owns and operates two bakeries, Penina’s Pie, one in Ashdod and one in Gan Yavne. The Gan Yavne Rabbinate set conditions, explaining her faith in Catholicism compelled them to set stringent conditions for a hechsher, that she agree to ongoing inspections and that the mashgiach be given a key and free access to the bakery [which should be the case for any store].
After not agreeing to the conditions, Penina Comforti opened a second bakery in Ashdod and received supervision from the local rabbinate, hiding her religious preferences from the rabbis. She then turned to the Gan Yavne Rabbinate to reinstate her supervision, explaining she has one from Ashdod. The rabbis spoke and she was summoned to a meeting with Rabbi Yosef Sheinen of Ashdod, following which her kashrus certificate was revoked. The rabbi explained that after Comforti confirmed she believes in the New Testament, it became obvious to him that she is not trustworthy for kashrus matters.
Comforti however was not taking this without a fight, and she turned to the Supreme Court, a move that surprised the Ashdod Rabbinical Council, which then gave her a teudah once again, with restrictions. The main condition is that one of the main workers present most of the working hours is “Ne’eman B’Kashrus”, a trustworthy individual that will allay the rabbis’ fears. She was also instructed to give the mashgiach keys, as well as guaranteeing there would be no missionary activities on premises. This arrangement was to be reevaluated after one month.
The state recommended that the High Court reject the petition, explaining the rabbis did not refuse to grant a kashrut supervision, but set conditions as they felt were required to ensure the kashrus is upheld, in adherence to halacha. The court however decided to accept the petition and ruled against the rabbis.
The court stated that while it is not ruling on halachic matters, and that the rabbis must decide what is acceptable to meet halachic standards, the conditions set forth by the rabbis must comply with the law and considerations not connected to kashrus matters may not come into play.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)