First phase of Israel’s Kosher reform comes into effect

Business owners can now seek Kosher certification from rabbis and supervisors outside of their municipalities.

By World Israel News Staff

The first stage of reforms to Israel’s kashrut system, developed by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana and included in the state budget ratified by the coalition, took effect on Sunday.

The reforms aim to change Israel’s current system of kosher food certification from a monopoly held by a small number of rabbis to a more democratized market, where any rabbi officially ordained by the Israeli government can grant a Kosher certificate.

“Starting today, restaurants, factories, supermarkets, and any business selling and producing food can choose which rabbi [to approach] for a Kosher certificate,” Kahana said in a statement.

Previously, business owners could only request a Kosher inspection and certification from a rabbi in their municipality.

Kahana said that a competitive Kosher certification market will motivate supervisors to provide superior service.

He added that the reforms will encourage more Israelis to eat Kosher food as more businesses will pursue the certification.

By 2023, if all phases of the reforms go as planned, private agencies will be able to grant Kosher certificates.

Those agencies will have to make their Kosher standards public and be subject to supervision and regulations set forth by the Rabbinate.

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While Kahana has argued that his plan will strengthen the power of the Rabbinate while creating a more robust market that will encourage more businesses to adhere to the dietary laws, critics have expressed fears that the reforms will create confusion and water down Kosher standards in the Jewish State.

In late October, some 100 protesters gathered in Tel Aviv’s Kikar Rabin in a demonstration against the reforms.

Most of the demonstrators were Kosher supervisors, who said that the reforms will put them out of work.

In a July statement, the Rabbinate said that Kahana’s plan was “a dangerous initiative to destroy kashrut in Israel.”

Multiple agencies issuing Kosher certifications “would mean the end of kashrut in the state and the creation of a ‘bazaar’ of groups with impure motives that will begin handing out certification,” the Rabbinate charged.