Secular wing of Bayit Yehudi sets up "kosher hotline"

The hotline will help kosher restauranteurs with complaints against kashrut supervisors in a highly political field.

Kedma - A modern kosher meat restaurant (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Kedma - A modern kosher meat restaurant
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Bayit Meshutaf – Secular Wing of Bayit Yehudi, an independent group affiliated with the political party, announced on Wednesday that it had set up a telephone hotline for restaurateurs and other catering businesses to report kashrut supervisors who fail to carry out their duties in a professional manner.
There are widespread reports in the industry of supervisors failing to provide adequate inspection and supervision, demanding cash payments and engaging in other unprofessional behavior.
Because of these reports, Inbal Liber, chairwoman of Bayit Meshutaf, said the group established the hotline to provide restaurant owners and caterers with a discreet channel for reporting malfeasant supervisors.
Liber said that on Wednesday morning, the first day of operations, the hotline, 052-873-6395, faced a deluge of incoming calls.
The complaints will be transmitted by the hotline staff to the Public Affairs division of the Religious Services Ministry, where each report will be investigated and further action taken if necessary.
Liber said that one of the most common issues restaurateurs speak of are supervisors who arrive at 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 and related how at a bar mitzva 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 restaurateur 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 and are therefore similarly interested in appropriate standards of inspection.
Bayit Meshutaf is an autonomous group connected with Bayit Yehudit that seeks to provide representation for the party’s nonreligious voters.
It is comprised of volunteers from around the country and is independent, although it does receive party funds for certain activities.