(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Religion just got more expensive. It emerged on Thursday that prices for a range of religious services provided by the state will be rising significantly in the next month.
According to the Ministry for Religious Services, prices have not increased since 2001 and the new increases simply reflect the rate of inflation and subsequent increased costs to the ministry.
Services included in the price hikes include marriage registration, kashrut licensing, burial, immersion in mikvaot and other ceremonies besides.
Marriage registration, which was NIS 600 is now rising to NIS 775. Issuing a certificate of single marital status is going up from 135 to 174.
Owners of restaurants, hotels, youth hostels, events halls will all have to pay increased prices for kashrut licensing.
A medium sized restaurant, seating from 21 to 50 diners, will now have to pay NIS 743 instead of NIS 575 with commensurate rises in the other size categories.
Factories producing food products, including bakeries, delicatessens and caterers, will also have to pay increased costs for their kashrut license, depending on the number of workers at the site or factory, with increases of just under 30 percent for all categories.
General food stores, butchers, fish mongers and and fruit and vegetable shops are also facing increased costs, as are vineyards and fruit packing factories.
It is not all bad news however for the food industry. Slaughterhouses may end up paying less than at present depending on the size of the premises. Until now all slaughterhouses paid a flat rate of NIS 7,285 a year. From now on, those with premises up to 500 square meters will pay just NIS 3,422, up to 1,000 square meters will pay NIS 6,457 and those above 1,001 square meters will pay NIS 9,408.
Small wineries may also benefit, with only those employing more than 11 people having to pay more than the current NIS 7,010 which will rise to 9,053. Wineries with less than 11 employees will pay substantially less.
But women going to the mikvah will have to pay NIS 15, up from the current 10 shekels, an out of hours mikvah visits will cost NIS 50.
Women in their first year of marriage will be exempt from all mikvah payments.
The cost of a mikvah visit for men is also being increased.
Director of Hiddush, a religious equality lobbying organization, questioned the price rises and said that what was needed was an end to the “monopoly of the rabbinate on kashrut and open it up to the free market.”
“In this market, kosher licensing auhtorities from all Jewish denominations with different halachic perspectives, as long as they disclose their terms of kashrut,” said Hiddush director Attorney and Reform Rabbi Uri Regev.
“Instead of raising prices, the time has come to think again if the monopolistic system of religion managed by the state is the correct way to provide the public with its needs.”