(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In the latest round of the kashrut wars, Hashgacha Pratit is issuing a new supervision certificate for restaurants under its auspices to comply with a recent High Court ruling.
Until now, the independent kashrut supervision authority, which was established in protest against alleged poor practices in the rabbinate’s kashrut service, has issued a certificate that mentions the requirements of “Jewish law relating to food ingredients and preparation” but does not use the word “kosher.”
Last week, however, the High Court of Justice ruled this legal loophole allowing restaurants to present themselves as being kosher without using the word “kosher” was unlawful, and that the Law Against Kashrut Fraud prohibited this practice.
The following day, the Chief Rabbinate issued five restaurants using Hashgacha Pratit’s supervision services with warnings of impending legal action should they not remove the certificates, a step taken as an implicit warning to all 27 restaurants around the country associated with Hashgacha Pratit.
In response to these developments, the organization has now issued certificates it believes will allow restaurants to identify themselves as kosher to their clientele without contravening the law.
The title of the previous certificate was “Brit Ne’emanut,” meaning agreement of trust, but since the word “ne’emanut” has associations with kashrut it has been exchanged to now read “Brit Me’haimanut,” meaning agreement of trustworthiness.
Hashgacha Pratit has also changed its logo and removed from it the actual words “Hashgacha Pratit,” since “hashgacha” means supervision, another word associated with kashrut regulation, The words “in accordance with Jewish law” have also been removed from the logo, and the word “Halacha,” or Jewish law, has been removed from the text of the certificate.
“The new certificates bear no indications of kashrut at all, and therefore they do not contravene the law,” said Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz, founder of Hashgacha Pratit and a member of the Jerusalem Municipal Council for the Yerushalmim Party.
“We are law-abiding citizens and respect the decision of the High Court of Justice, while at the same time we will continue to work and to provide quality, values-based kashrut to the community. We will not abandon our customers to the hands of the rabbinate.”