Possible kashrut licensing crisis looming for Jerusalem

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who has authority to authorize kashrut licenses, recused himself due to criminal investigation against him.

CHIEF RABBI Yona Metzger 370 (photo credit: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)
CHIEF RABBI Yona Metzger 370
(photo credit: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)
Jerusalem is facing a possible kashrut crisis due to the investigation into Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, and his decision to recuse himself from all official duties until the investigation is concluded.
As first reported by Army Radio, Metzger is the legally designated official for authorizing kashrut licenses in Jerusalem since there is currently no chief municipal rabbi for the city.
This presents a potential problem for any new establishments seeking to gain a kashrut license due to Metzger’s recusal from his duties as chief rabbi.
The Council of the Chief Rabbinate was supposed to convene on Monday in order to discuss various issues, including the appointment of someone who could replace Metzger as the kashrut license authority for Jerusalem.
The meeting did not take place, however, as at least eight of the 15 council members said they could not attend, meaning it was impossible to form the majority required to take decisions.
The rabbinate said that the meeting was called off due to requests by several council members to postpone owing to personal reasons.
Yet reports in the haredi media accused Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar of seeking to make several appointments within the rabbinate that were opposed by some of the council members, who therefore refused to attend a meeting.
The rabbinate said that such claims were completely false, also stating that Metzger is still able to authorize kashrut licenses for new establishments if the situation arises.
What is more problematic is the situation after July 24, when the new chief rabbis will be elected – because of the upcoming expiration date of all currently valid kashrut licenses immediately before Rosh Hashana on September 4.
The Council of the Chief Rabbinate is the only body authorized to designate a kashrut licensing authority for Jerusalem, but owing to the politically charged nature of the current election campaign for the incoming chief rabbis, the rabbinate is concerned that if legal proceedings are initiated by a losing candidate, or if civil rights activist groups file High Court of Justice petitions against a winning candidate for past misdemeanors, a new official for kashrut licensing will not be appointed in time.
This could possibly create chaos for the hundreds of kosher establishments throughout the city.
One possibility could be for the rabbinate’s Department for National Kashrut to renew the licenses, though this is not necessarily possible from a legal standpoint.