Chief Rabbinate summons 'Shabbat restaurant' owner over kosher cert.

Bab al-Yemen the “Gate to Yemen” – is part of a new Jerusalem trend in which the restaurant serves kosher food and opens its doors on Shabbat without desecrating Shabbat in any way.

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July 1, 2019 15:19
2 minute read.
Yehonatan Vadai in fron of his Bab al-Yemen restaurant

Yehonatan Vadai in fron of his Bab al-Yemen restaurant. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Chief Rabbinate summoned Bab al-Yemen restaurant owner Yehonatan Vadai on Monday to discuss attaining kosher certification, following public pressure after it was refused by the Kashrut authority.

Bab al-Yemen the “Gate to Yemen” – is part of a new Jerusalem trend in which the restaurant serves kosher food and opens its doors on Shabbat without desecrating Shabbat in any way. 
“The food is prepared in advance and heated on hot plates and the payment is made before or after Shabbat, just as it is done in hotels in Israel and in many kosher restaurants around the world,” Vadai explained in a statement to the press on Sunday night. "The fact that the rabbinate refuses to give kosher certification to a restaurant is strange and makes no sense… If hotels can receive kosher certificates, why do not we?" 


Vadai said that he hopes “that the summons to the hearing on the appeal is a first and groundbreaking step on the way to receiving a kosher certificate for a restaurant. 


“I call on the rabbinate to do the right thing and to strengthen the values of Shabbat," he said.


In an interview with The Jerusalem Post last month, Vadai said he’d received support from prominent rabbis such as Jerusalem’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Aryeh Stern.


He “liked the idea and wanted to put in a recommendation that the restaurant be deemed kosher, but ultimately he said that his hands were tied by the Rabbinate’s decision.”


Several weeks ago, a petition was also filed to the High Court of Justice on behalf of Vadai by the Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah movement, in which the rabbinate was asked to explain why it would not issue a kosher certificate for a restaurant that is open and operates in the same model as hotels in Israel on Shabbat.


The petition also went on to explain that this is the same method as what Chabad worldwide uses on Shabbat.


“Absurdly, an Israeli backpacker can wander around the world... and find in almost every place the possibility of a Shabbat meal, with the payment arranged before or after Shabbat,” the petition states. Yet, “In the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, these young people encounter a lack of a solution for themselves.”


Tani Frank, head of Religion and State in Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah, also said on Sunday night that the "rabbinate should have an interest to strengthen restaurants that do not desecrate Shabbat and serve kosher food.”


“Such a move would increase the amount of business faculties and will allow for the religious community to hold [Shabbat] meals for their family and community while strengthening small local businesses,” Frank stressed. 


“I sincerely hope the rabbinate will bring people together, review the matter impartially and allow Bab al-Yemen and other restaurants [to] open their doors on Saturday – without violating Shabbat, while also adhering to the laws of Kashrut," he added


Yvette J. Dean contributed to this report.


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