update deskJewish & Israeli Culture

Court paves way for alternative kashrut supervision of imports

The decision challenges Chief Rabbinate of Israel's monopoly.

A Tzohar Rabbinical Organization certificate that reads at the bottom: “This restaurant does not have a kashrut certificate from the Rabbinate.” Photo by Sara Meckler.
A Tzohar Rabbinical Organization certificate that reads at the bottom: “This restaurant does not have a kashrut certificate from the Rabbinate.” Photo by Sara Meckler.

In a challenge to the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly, Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday paved the way for alternative kashrut supervision of imported food products.

In its decision, the court accepted a petition brought by the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization‘s Kashrut division against a Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s decision that had prevented the recognition of Tzohar as a kashrut certifier for imported items.

Several years ago, the Chief Rabbinate approved the privatization of certification for imported goods, opening the door for numerous kashrut supervisors from the ultra-Orthodox community, including the Badatz and Beit Yosef supervisions, to grant approval for goods being produced abroad.

At the same time, the Rabbinate rejected a request by Tzohar’s Food Supervision Division to be similarly recognized, alleging operational mismanagement and illegal activities, leading to the petition to the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice.

The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization is an Israeli group made up of more than 800 Zionist Orthodox rabbis. 

Tzohar had opened a supervision authority in 2017 in an effort to challenge the monopoly run by the Chief Rabbinate, and since then it has become an alternative choice for many entrepreneurs within Israel.

Wednesday’s court ruling noted that there was no basis for the Chief Rabbinate’s claims of any illicit activity or mismanagement on the part of Tzohar, and ordered the Rabbinate to compensate Tzohar for its legal costs involved in removing the ban.

“We commend the Supreme Court for reaching this decision and the Rabbinate for accepting that mistakes were made,” Tzohar’s legal team led by Asaf Benmelech and Orit Lavi said in a joint statement. “We hope to have the chance to work closely with the Rabbinate in order to further improve kashrut observance in Israel and to advance competition in ways that will only benefit the Israeli and kosher-consuming public.”

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