A woman text messages SMS 370 (R).
(photo credit: Vivek Prakash / Reuters)
The Bayit Meshutaf - Secular Wing of Bayit Yehudi, an independent group affiliated with the political party, announced on Wednesday that it has set up a telephone hotline for restauranteurs and other catering businesses to report kashrut supervisors who fail to carry out their duties in a professional manner.
Reports in the industry of supervisors failing to provide adequate inspection and supervision are widespread, as are other poor practices such as demanding cash payments and other unprofessional behavior.
Because of these reports, Inbal Liber, chairwoman of the Bayit Meshutaf, said the group decided to establish the hotline in order to provide restaurant owners and caterers with a discreet channel for reporting malfeasance supervisors.
Liber said that on Wednesday morning, the first day of operations, the hotline was deluged by incoming calls.
The complaints will be transmitted by the hotline staff to the Public Affairs division of the Ministry for Religious Services where each report will be investigated and further action taken if necessary. (what will happen if there are problems?)
Liber said that one of the most common issues restauranteurs speak of are supervisors who arrive at the premises of the kashrut licensed establishment and spend barely any time performing the required checks and inspections before demanding payment and leaving.
Another complaint has been of supervisors demanding payment in cash and refusing to provide a receipt.
In one report received by the hotline on Wednesday, a caterer from Bat Yam called in and related how at a Bar Mitzvah party a kashrut supervisor had demanded that his family be provided food at the event otherwise he would not provide him with kashrut supervision.
In another complaint, a restauranteur reported that the supervisor had demanded he use only mehadrin (a strict level of supervision) products despite the fact that his establishment was licensed by the rabbinate.
Liber said that the issue was relevant for religious and secular people alike, since kosher restaurant owners and caterers see professional and legitimate kashrut supervision as a crucial element of their businesses whether they themselves are religious or not.
She also noted that many people who define themselves as secular nevertheless observe kashrut laws and are therefore similarly interested in appropriate standards of kashrut inspection.
The Bayit Meshutaf is an autonomous group connected with Bayit Yehudit that seeks to provide representation for the party’s non-religious voters.
It is comprised of volunteers from around the country and is independent although does receive party funds for certain activities.