Independent kashrut authority to close, transfer business to rabbinical association

Hasgacha Pratit, an independent kashrut authority, will close and its businesses absorbed by Tzohar.

Kosher certificates (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Kosher certificates
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Hashgacha Pratit independent kashrut authority that has pioneered Orthodox kashrut supervision outside of the Chief Rabbinate has decided to end operations and transfer its clients to the nascent supervision authority being established by the Tzohar rabbinical association.
In a step that could augur far-reaching change for the kashrut industry, Tzohar announced on Monday that it will be opening its own kashrut authority to provide supervision services to restaurants, hotels and other food businesses.
This process was coordinated with Hashgacha Pratit and Tzohar, and the latter will take on the 39 restaurants and food outlets currently under the supervision of Hashgacha Pratit, as well as the five kashrut supervisors it has employed.
Also moving from Hashgacha Pratit to Tzohar’s new supervision authority is Rabbi Oren Duvdevani, a widely respected expert on the laws of kashrut who used to work with the Chief Rabbinate but who defected to Hashgacha Pratit and served as the head of its kashrut supervision.
And Tzohar Food Inspection, as the new kashrut authority is called, will be broadly adopting the supervision model Hashgacha Pratit formulated, including preliminary assessments of the viability of kashrut supervision at the business in question, kashrut workshops for the entire staff, and unfettered access for kashrut supervisors to the kitchens throughout the working week.
According to a spokesman for Hashgacha Pratit, the goal of the organization and its founder Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz was always to open the kashrut market to competition so as to improve the general standard of supervision, given the bad practices and corruption that have taken root in the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut system.
Hashgacha Pratit’s legal victory in the High Court of Justice last year, which cracked open the rabbinate’s monopoly and allows for restaurants to declare that they follow kashrut standards, albeit without declaring in writing that they are kosher, means that independent organizations can now operate legally in the field of kashrut supervision.
The spokesman said that although this achievement is considerable and historic, Tzohar with its name and brand recognition and the trust it has developed with secular, traditional, and moderate National Religious communities, is better placed than Hashgacha Pratit to challenge the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly and bring in large numbers of businesses to its supervision authority.
Since this was always the goal of Hashgacha Pratit, it was natural for the organization to bow out of the field and allow Tzohar to take over its clients.
“Over the years, they [the Chief Rabbinate] first ignored us, then they disparaged us, then they besmirched and harassed us, but today it’s clear: common sense has won, the Israeli public has won,” said Leibowitz in Hashgacha Pratit’s announcement.
 “In five years of intensive activities, facing unceasing attacks from elements seeking to preserve their control over the centers of power, we in Hashgacha Pratit succeeded in changing the equation in the field of kashrut.
“To our happiness, our success has opened the gate and the appetite for other, bigger, respected, experienced organizations like Tzohar. This exit demonstrates the maturation of the National Religious leadership, who instead of continuing to wait in vain, is taking action out of concern for religious services,” Leibowitz said.