Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is siding with the Ashdod Rabbinate against the High Court of Justice following the court’s decision to intervene in the case of a Messianic Jewess who owns two bakeries, and was refused a hechsher from the Ashkelon Rabbinate due to her affiliation. The second bakery owned by the same person is located in Yavne.
Ashdod Chief Rabbi Yosef Sheinen Shlita revoked the hechsher for Penina’s Pie Bakery after learning the truth about the owner, Penina Comforti.
Mazuz is working with the Ashdod Rabbinate legal advisor, seeking another High Court hearing with an expanded number of justices, explaining the case is extremely sensitive and has widespread ramifications. In his petition to the court, attorney Avi Licht points out that this addresses the heart of the state and religion issue, and the court’s ruling limits the Rabbinate’s Freedom of Religion while also impacting the shomer shabbos community.
Mazuz also points out that while the laws are civil and not halachic, they are intended to safeguard the Torah laws of kashrus, and the decision to compel the bakeries receives a kashrus certificate is a blow to the religious community that relies on the certificate.
Mazuz goes as far as to say the result may be that a religious person may purchase something that is assumed to be kosher but in actuality, is not, resulting in the adverse effect since the laws are intended to protect the kosher consumer.
The three High Court justices in their ruling stated the Rabbinate was willing to give supervision with preconditions, conditions which the court viewed as belonging to a fanatic fringe, nothing to do with kosher dietary law. The court rejected the fact that the rabbis feel a Messianic Jew cannot be “trusted”. The rabbis demanded a fulltime mashgiach on the premises, and the court accepted the bakery’s contention that it cannot afford the cost of one.
Justice Eliezer Rivlin ruled that the kashrus is only relevant to the end product, the baked goods, and in no way tied to the owner and her beliefs. He added that the court views the kosher laws a secular consumer laws and therefore, the state may rule in the case.
It is now up to the High Court of Justice to decide if it will permit another hearing in the case with an expanded judicial forum presiding.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)