Friday, May 08, 2015

State to recognize private kashrut supervision 

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed the High Court of Justice on Wednesday that the state would no longer fine restaurant owners who claim to be supervised by private kashrut bodies and would cancel finds imposed on them for deceiving consumers. The decision was met with angry reactions in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

The State Prosecutor's Office announced the decision in a letter to Attorney Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, who is representing two restaurant owners who petitioned the High Court over the issue on behalf of the Israel Religious Action Center: "In the current legislative situation, fines or indictments will not be filed against owners of restaurants who will present a document showing that the place is inspected or supervised by a certain body." 
The attorney general stressed, however, that the restaurants must make it perfectly clear, in a way which will not mislead the reasonable person, that the document presented to the consumers is not a "kashrut certificate" on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate.
In addition, these restaurants will not define themselves with the word "kosher," as demanded by the Rabbinate. "In such a case, it would be considered a criminal offense according to the current legislative situation," the State Prosecutor's Office clarified.
'Decision harms Rabbinate's legal authorities'
Rabbinate officials were furious with the decision, arguing that it would lead to deception and mislead the average kashrut-observing consumer, who only trusts supervisors on behalf of the state religious establishment.
Nonetheless, the Rabbinate officials said they were not concerned, as the ultra-Orthodox parties had already been promised an amendment to the law which would preserve the current situation, as part of the coalition agreements.

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