Tav Ha’Yosher? Restaurateurs Beware!


tav-hayosherBy Avi Cohn

Tav Ha’Yosher or “The Ethical Seal” is a so-called “Hechsher” founded and led by Ari Weiss, Shmully Yanklowitz and Ari Hart under the social justice organization Uri L’Tzedek. They describe themselves as “an Orthodox social justice organization guided by Torah values and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression.”

Tav claims that although the rest of society is up to par in the battle for social justice or at least getting there, the orthodox community is lagging behind, mostly as a result of their own micro-legal system which doesn’t view human rights issues as that big a problem. As an “answer” to this, they’ve created a new type of Hechsher to monitor restaurants and insure justice.

Interestingly, one is yet to hear from the ‘social minded’ Tav people concerning Wal-Mart despite the recent revelations of horrific working conditions in Bangladesh that has caused the death of hundred workers producing clothing for the retail giant.

Have any of the gentlemen at the helm of Tav canceled their planned family trip to Disney?


Setting aside the suspect nature of social justice organizations in general, let us presume righteous intent here for a moment, and examine this new “Hechsher” and how it is supposed to insure justice.

Tav created a “Hechsher in exchange for promotion” system in which the restaurant uses the Tav’s “Ethical Hechsher” and in exchange, the Tav lets everybody know that the restaurant operates ethically. At a glance this seems like it could work. Except when considering the consequences, both of using the Hechsher and of not. The problems are [at least,]  four:

1.  Uneducated consumers assume that this “Hechsher” reflects the restaurants standard of Kashrus. Although it is important to exclusively patronize establishments that treat their workers fairly, it is not a matter of Kashrus. Tav gives the impression that the food isn’t kosher if the workers aren’t treated well; something that folks who don’t know better will easily buy into. It is both misleading and untrue.

2.  Not using the Tav gives consumers the impression that the owner has something to hide. Otherwise, why not use the Tav? This isn’t necessarily true. There is a plethora of valid reasons why not to use the Tav; namely their high fees and shoddy practices in “signing up” restaurants. (They falsely claim restaurants as existing customers in order to build up their own name e.g. Kosh in Stamford CT and others. They have also been known to bully restaurant owners into using Tav by threatening to expose unfair treatment of workers)

3.  Lastly, restaurants that do use the Tav are being boycotted by a great majority of the Kosher-restaurant-going demographic. Most orthodox Jews will not eat in a restaurant that uses the Tav because of its questionable standing in the orthodox community.

4.  4- The old adage is ‘never marry someone whom you cannot divorce’….

Think hard before you accept the Tav ‘Hechsher’.

While it occasionally occurs that an establishment changes their Rabbinic Hashgocha, it has a relatively insignificant impact on the business.

Conversely, if Tav allege that you treated one of your employees unfairly and you come to a point of dropping their so called Hechsher….beware. You will become their poster boy of their crusade ‘against retardants exploiting their workers’. They will organize boycotts outside your retatsurant.

Less restaurant-goers equals less business and less business equals  fewer jobs. It appears then, that Tav has caused more damage to restaurants and their workers than they’ve helped. Tav has done nothing that the unions, local law enforcement, attorneys and social justice groups haven’t already succeeded in doing. Yet they continue to make this shpiel.

Check out eyeonthetav.com for more information and updates.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. (I don’t understand all the attacks on Tav — they suggest that Torah Judaism is on the defensive in light of Tav??)

    Your poor arguments notwithstanding, and even if the Tav people are being hyperbolic regarding current ethical standards in kosher restaurants, the simple solution is rather than attacking the Tav thing, take what is good – i.e., that the seal implies ethical standards are upheld and incorporate it into standard hashgochos i.e., the Vaad of X should state publicly that the standards of their hashgacha include both kashrus and standard western standards of fair treatment of employees…. AND then make an example of an establishment: publicly take away their hashgocho when its proven that they treat their employees poorly — its a win win for everyone and we can stop cowering and being all defensive in the face of Tav.

  2. The basic idea of the Tav Ha’Yosher is not a bad one. R’ Breuer zt”l wrote an article entitled “Glatt Kosher – Glatt Yoshor” over 60 years ago, which called for people to act properly in their business, not just as far as the kashrus went. He said that kosher and yoshor are “intimately related”.

    The problem with the Tav Ha’Yosher is, as detailed above, their mafia-like tactics in how they enforce their “hechsher”. If a frum person would come up with a similar idea, and run it properly, it would be a great thing, and would fulfill a dream that R’ Breuer zt”l had.

  3. One thing I find interesting is that most of the places in the NYC area under the Tav bear hashgachot that most frum jews won’t eat in

    The way in which they manage their internships is also questionable- unpaid, no lunch breaks, no car fare, etc.

  4. I think it is important to publicize which restaurants support them. I will try to avoid patronizing any restaurant that has added this seal of disapproval.

  5. As I understand this piece, the author believes that mashgichei kashrut should concern themselves only with the kashrut of food served, and not get involved in other aspects of the establishments business practices, like how they treat their laborers. I’d like to ask Mr. Cohn’s opinion on kashrut certification agencies that withhold their hechsher from institutions that serve strictly kosher food, food that would be eaten in most any frum home, but allow mixed dancing or mixed seating.

  6. Do we need an organization that is more interested in animal rights then kashrut it’s time to question any one that takes it in

  7. I wonder if one of the Matzav readers could explain to me why it’s “crazy” to care about animal rights and workers rights in addition to caring about kashrus.

    I would appreciate knowing — as one of the other commentators pointed out — why we should be entirely supportive of linking kashrus supervision to not allowing breaches of tznius, but entirely against what this organization is advocating.

    It seems to me that our best response would be to say that our objection is to those who are running the organization and that we would fully support a parallel organization being set up by Rabbonim we find acceptable.

    Otherwise, this discussion makes it seem that workers rights and animal rights are matters that the Torah cares nothing about.

  8. Most places they supervise wouldn’t be patronized by the majority of the NYC Orthodox community due to the hashgacas they bear; many are open on Shabbos.

    We’re talking places like Bagel Boss, Maoz, Viva Herbal- places with hashgochas that aren’t widely accepted.

    There are very few glatt kosher places under the Tav- Dougie’s in Teaneck, Noah’s Ark Deli, etc.

  9. Cause animals DONT have rights, rather we have responsibilities, and as soon as you switch that for “animal rights”, your on a slippery slope.

  10. A “Tav” organization known to withholds wages, cheat in business and overworks employees, is Hillel at Maryland University. The truth is awful. Some super liberal activist student asked them to take up the “hechsher”.

  11. The people behind the TAV originally wanted to call it Hechsher tzedek. They changed that because of concern that it would be mistaken as a hechsher. They do not claim to be mashgichei kashrus, they very clearly are working on a different aspect of these businesses. I don’t understand what has everyone up in arms?

  12. In addition to all the valid concerns about this org., I would like to add the following: Are they experts in Choshen Mishpat, and honestly judge an establishment’s level of “yosher” accordingly? Or do they use their own personal opinions of what’s “right”?

  13. There are some facts in this article that need correction. There are no fees. Absolutely none. I also was an intern and they bought me lunch everyday.