The Association of Restaurants and the Hotels Association has joined an appeal against a 2016 High Court ruling that prevents eateries from advertising themselves as kosher without the hechsher of the Israeli rabbinate. The two groups joined a pair of Yerushalayim restaurateurs who originally began the struggle.
“Many restaurants want to be kosher but are wary of the bureaucracy of the rabbinate and the conduct of the local rabbinates and mashgichim,” said Shai Berman, chairman of the Association of Restaurants. “Many restaurateurs feel hostage to local rabbinates and the arrangements dictated to us. They are not necessarily related to halacha and true supervision of food for customers. They dictate to us whom to employ, to what extent and for what wages, all in the name of the hechsher, but nothing to do with kashrus.“
It is clear from the contents of the plea that the plaintiffs are unaware of what kashrus really entails. The plea complains against “unnecessary” chumros such as the prohibition against serving strawberries, figs and date cake, the rabbinate’s demand to serve specific brands of mushrooms, restrictions to which dried peas may be used, and the rabbinate’s insistence on using kosher grown lettuce and leaf products.
The plaintiffs also complained about the rabbinate’s demand to maintain separate milk and meat kitchens and the need to keep Jewish workers at hand to light stoves, or leave stoves burning constantly.
Some complaints seem to have more validity, such as claims that local rabbinates and even mashgichim interpret the chief rabbinate’s rules differently, resulting in hotel chains needing to alter their kashrus standards in different locations, or that mashgichim must be paid a monthly salary even in slack months, when hotels are almost empty.