Basher cheese store and restaurant raided by kashrut authority

Popular delicatessen sells foreign-made cheeses, which it falsely marked as kosher.

Stickers with kashrut stamp of Rabbi Moshe Alloun. (photo credit: Chief Rabbinate)
Stickers with kashrut stamp of Rabbi Moshe Alloun.
(photo credit: Chief Rabbinate)
The Basher cheese purveyor in Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda, along with its bistro bar located close by, were both raided by the Chief Rabbinate’s National Unit for Kashrut Fraud on Sunday morning.
The raid was carried out in accordance with a search warrant issued by the courts during which several problems were discovered at the cheese store and it was also found that the Basher restaurant, located on Agripas st.
in Jerusalem, displayed a kashrut certificate from an unauthorized kashrut licensing organization.
Basher is a popular delicatessen that sells a large variety of foreign-made, mostly European, cheeses that it has always insisted were kosher, although not necessarily from supervised milk.
In a statement to the press, the Chief Rabbinate said that “dozens of illegal kashrut certificates for different products were seized,” issued by a kashrut authority “bearing the name of ‘Rabbi Moshe Alloun, France.’” The rabbinate said that this authority was investigated by the rabbinate, which concluded that its supervision was “insufficient to market products in Israel as kosher for various reasons, including a suspicion that products from unsupervised milk were indicated as being from supervised milk.”
The rabbinate’s investigators found stickers at the Mahaneh Yehuda site bearing the stamp of Alloun “in a manner that aroused suspicion that the stickers were applied to the products by local [Israeli] staff, and not by supervisors at the assembly lines in Europe.”
Additionally, the rabbinate said that on some products the certification bore both the caption “Kosher for Passover” and “Kosher for the days of the year only.”
“Kosher for the days of the year alone” means “Not kosher for Passover” in kashrut jargon, and the rabbinate said that the fact that products bore both labels raised suspicion that the labels were forged.
In addition, the rabbinate said that there was a concern that products were labeled as being from supervised milk when they were in fact from unsupervised milk.
Additionally, a kashrut certificate issued by “an illegal authority” known as Badatz Keter Hachsharot was found in the establishment.
Badatz Keter Hachsharot is not an authorized kashrut supervisory body and the chief rabbinate has pointed to problematic practices with this body in the past.
There was no kashrut supervisor at the site, from any authority, and some of the cheeses at the site had no kashrut stamp at all and no information as to their origin, the rabbinate said.
“This is a well known business whose activities aroused suspicion and were specifically directed at the religiously observant community by prominently [displaying] illegal kashrut signs,” said director of the National Unit for Kashrut Fraud Rafi Yohai.
“Neither the restaurant nor the store in the market have a kashrut certificate from a legal rabbinate.
Unfortunately, there is a concern that many members of the public were tricked.
We hope that in light of the findings, that were revealed in today’s raid, justice will be done with this company.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Alloun said that despite the fact that the rabbinate said they had investigated his kashrut certification business, they had never contacted him directly or spoken with him.
He said that the rabbinate could not know which cheeses were indeed kosher and which were not without speaking with him, and accused the institution of corruption.
Alloun said he had been aware in the past that kashrut certificates for some cheeses were switched but said that he believed this had been done in error and that he had dealt with the issue.
He also insisted that there were different standards of supervised milk, and rejected the chief rabbinate’s assertion that products labeled as from supervised milk were from unsupervised milk.
In response to the report, Basher said it sold “hundreds of types of quality cheese from Europe, under the supervision of different authorities, some of whom are rabbis and rabbinical judges ordained by the rabbinate.”
The business did not comment on the kashrut certificate found at its restaurant and bar, but said that it was suffering from attempts by the rabbinate “to preserve its monopoly in the field of kashrut.”