Kashrut reform enter first phase amid haredi boycott

The move is the first step of a gradual move to competition-based kashrut certification.

Kashrut certificate in Jerusalem, July 21, 2021.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Kashrut certificate in Jerusalem, July 21, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The kashrut reform initiated by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) officially began on Sunday. Businesses may now choose any municipal chief rabbi to grant them a license, and do not have to choose the rabbi of their locale.

The move is the first step of a gradual move to competition-based kashrut certification. By the end of 2022, the process will be privatized with governmental oversight. Meanwhile, municipal rabbis may now compete with one another for business owners outside of their jurisdiction.

“A new morning in Israel!” Kahana wrote on Twitter. “Today the first stage of the kashrut program will begin, which will regulate the State of Israel’s kashrut system and march it forward to better kashrut, better-regulated kashrut, more organized kashrut,” he wrote.

Leading haredi rabbis published a petition threatening to excommunicate any rabbi who grants a kashrut certificate outside his municipal border.

The petition claimed that the reform’s purpose is to “create discord among the rabbis of Israel,” and to cause “jealousy and competition between man and his brother,” which will lead to the “complete destruction of the kashrut system in the holy land.

 Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana attends a plenary session at the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, July 26, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana attends a plenary session at the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, July 26, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

It warned rabbis not to “trespass” on their neighbors’ territory and threatened that their kashrut certifications will not be recognized anywhere if they choose to do so.

The petition was signed by Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, one of the leaders of the haredi world and Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the spiritual leader of Shas, and more are expected to join. It was initiated by Rabbi David Ohayon, head of the Committee of Municipal Rabbis.