Travelers Find Kashrus in Israel Confusing


kashrusWith the Summer travel season looming, leading kashrus officials in this country are preparing to respond to inquiries from travelers about kashrus overseas. While generally being familiar with symbols and organizations here, many vacationers find it hard to negotiate the standards and symbols overseas.

What is fascinating, say kashrus officials, is that Israel is the most confusing. While the majority of Israel’s food establishments have certification by either the Chief Rabbinate or the local Rabbinate, the standards may vary from case to case. It is particularly perplexing to travelers who covet glatt kosher. Some establishments routinely interchange Glatt with Mehadrin, adding to the confusion. Then there is Bet Yosef glatt which is not always accepted by many Orthodox Jews. The certification by the Orthodox Union (OU) of some establishments (hotels and restaurants) in recent years has given American travelers and Americans living in Israel “a level of comfort.”

One observer noted that at such high-end restaurants as Papagaio and Red Heifer, English was the language spoken. “It’s like you closed your eyes and imagined you were at an upscale restaurant in Manhattan.” It is also important to such popular hotels as the Ramada and Plaza in Jerusalem who attract American Orthodox Jews.

A leading kashrus official in Israel told KosherToday that American tourists seeking the highest standard of glatt are aware of rabbis and agencies that meet their standards. He mentioned Rabbi Moshe Landau of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Avrohom Rubin of Rehovot and the Eda Hachreidit as examples of some of “the more acceptable certifications.” The rabbi acknowledged that certificates hanging in food establishments can be confusing, especially to tourists with limited command of the Hebrew language.

{Kosher Today/ Newscenter}


  1. 1. The first thing all Americans or chutznikim as they are called in E”Y is that Israel has a law which obligates the rabonim to give hechsher to a establishment if it has even minimum kashrus level. Just to clarify my point there is a rov in certain city, which does not want to give a hechsher to a missionary cafe. the owner has taken the rov to courts and now I think they are in Israeli supreme court to fight the case.(the story was reported on matzav)
    2. The Rabanut and the local rabonim agenda in giving hechsher is that people shouldn’t eat treif. Meaning to say there are times, which they rely on the stringiest poskim or shitos in rishonim to give a hechsher.(that is why most rabanut have also a mehadrin option)
    3.Every Rabunut and hechsher in E”Y have their own guidelines which makes it very hard to know which one is reliable and which is not.
    4. There are plenty fake certifications in Israel on even some totally treif restaurants. A beautiful and well-written certification to print costs 100 shekels but one makes the money in 1/2 hour. Sorry to say but Israelis are number 1 in fraud.

    6. BET YOSEF is a chumra in hilchs shechita and also in hilchos bishule akkum, which is far stricter than the REMA in Shulchan Aruch. So it is true that us ashknazim don’t paskin by it but to say that is a lower standard I never heard.
    There is a hechsher which is called BADATS BET YOSEF, which as mentioned above some people don’t like and they love bashing like every other badatz in E”Y, but that has nothing to do with the actual bet yosef chumra in shulchan aruch.

    Hatzloch on your vacation and don’t be fooled by signs or what people tell you.

  2. Funny, there are many people I know who think Beit Yosef glatt is the very best, better than all the other hechshers.

    The bottom line, though, is ask your rav what is acceptable. And look for the certificate in every restaurant you visit. And don’t rely on fancy looking hechshers that you don’t recognize. They are commonly known as “fake badatzes” and are usually a scam in which absolutely no hashgacha is done at all!

  3. to comment #1 and to the writer
    Most Americans living or learning in Israel are fed information from their friend or what they read on Yerushalayim walls.
    Americans have no problem going to a rabanut mehadrin place but they wont touch a badatz bet yosef with a 10-foot poll. A Rabanut Mehadrin place could bring any of the mainstream badatzim and is considered a mehadrin and accepted by the Rabbanut.
    Americans wont touch any R’ Machpud meats either but they of course eat in ALGACHO/HALLO TEIMAN/ANTRIKOT (all under R’ Machpud) WHY???
    simple these places have good food great menu and a person could fulfill his taaivos as much as he wants. Speaking to an avreich he told me no way to bring R’ Machpud in to his house, but to go to the above restaurants is OK. In other words a person could eat treif when he likes to eat out. According to him maybe one could walk in to a McDonnell’s if he wants to eat out.

    before you go bash one hechsher just go check the sources an the stories see if they are true or not.
    In E”Y their are over 15-17 Badatzim that is besides all the local Rabbanuts, and the number of chareidim is roughly few hundreds thousand so just imagine what the hechsherim have to do in order to stay afloat. In the beginning I didn’t want to believe it either, until my Rosh Yeshiva took me aside and explained it to me.

    Rav Ovadyah shlit’a which is the Nasi of the hechsher says you could eat it with closed eyes and the achrayus is on me.

  4. It is an interesting and unsettling fact – Those who are extremely frum and machmir in America as to the Hechsher of the meat and chicken that they use, and they only buy chasidishe hechsherim and would never even think of putting anything other than what they consider to be the best, into their mouths – They come to Israel and they prance through the streets of Geulah and all of Yerushalayim going out to eat in hotels, and restaurants, and fast food places that they haven’t even checked out!!! It says the word KOSHER on the storefront! Just because the word Kosher is written in nice Hebrew lettering on the storefront, that is NOT a guarantee as to the Hechsher and standards of the store and it’s menu! You need to inquire and find out what is right for YOU! Good luck.