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Shalom Chaverim,

Did you know that, in Israel, broccoli can be kosher...or not kosher?  There are no defined standards, so each authorized supervisor defines the rules for their city or region.  But change is afoot.

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Israel's Minister of Religious Affairs, Matan Kahana, has introduced a proposal to open kashrut supervision to competition, with the objective to offer choice and lower cost to businesses, as well as improve supervision. Right now, Israel is the only country in the world where kosher certification is a monopoly. That means only the Chief Rabbinate can authorize a mashgiach, a kashrut supervisor.

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Any system that's a monopoly is prone to corruption, and that is the situation in Israel. Some kashrut supervisors log more than 24 hours/day, while others claim to work but don't.  Supervisors are paid by the businesses they supervise, which creates conflict of interest.  In general, the cost to business is high, but the quality of supervision is inconsistent.

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The main beneficiary of the current system, the Chief Rabbinate, is opposed to change.  For the past 20 years Haredi parties in the government coalition have prevented change, despite the mounting evidence of problems.  The new "change" coalition government has made this a priority.

However, Israel's Reform community considers this change only "a small step in the right direction".  All the experts authorized to certify kashrut will be Orthodox Rabbis employed by the state.  The new law will open up kosher certification to competition by modern Orthodox organizations, but neither Reform nor Conservative Rabbis are eligible.

Want to know more?  Click here and here.

Sincerely,

Lee Weisser

President, ARZA Canada

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