Female kashrut supervisors get nod from rabbis

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December 4, 2013 01:24

Chief Rabbinate removes a stipulation that kashrut supervisors must be men; decision follows petition from Emuhah women's rights group.

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Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate

Jerusalem chief rabbinate 311. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem)

The Chief Rabbinate has removed a stipulation that kashrut supervisors must be men, thereby paving the way for the first female supervisors to be employed for the job.

The decision comes following a petition filed by the Emuhah women’s rights group to the High Court of Justice, demanding that women be allowed to fill the role.

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The previous guidelines for anyone taking the rabbinate test for kashrut supervisors included clauses that to all intents and purposes prevented women from applying.

But last week, the State Attorney’s Office informed the High Court that Chief Rabbi David Lau had decided to remove these stipulations.

Emunah has worked for two years to pressure the Chief Rabbinate into allowing women to take the tests, and has also established a teaching course for women wanting to study to become kashrut supervisors and take the rabbinate exam.

The rabbinate’s decision, which was heavily opposed by some members of the Chief Rabbinate Council, means that women will now be able to take the exam and then apply to restaurant and catering businesses for work as kashrut supervisors.

“This is without doubt a historic breakthrough and achievement,” Emunah chairwoman Liora Minke said following the announcement of the decision. “It will open new horizons for employment for many women in a field which was closed to them for many years.”

Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie also welcomed the development, saying she had personally spoken to Lau on the matter.

“There is no reason in Jewish law that women cannot serve as kashrut supervisors, and as far back as the 16th century, women were working as animal slaughterers and were taking responsibility for matters of kashrut,” Lavie noted.

“The Chief Rabbinate must continue to find ways to make itself more accommodating to reality in Israel,” she added.

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