Chief Rabbinate kashrut inspector (

Chief Rabbinate kashrut inspector (

Israel’s multi-billion-shekel Kashrut industry has been plagued by allegations of corruption and cronyism over the decades. Businesses often complain about the high costs of certification, the unreasonable demands of kashrut supervisors, the lack of uniform national standards, and the absence of any recourse for businesses to claim to have been treated unjustly. Haaretz 8/10/21

With these claims in mind, it is no wonder business owners welcome the news that the new government plans to overhaul kashrut supervision.

However, the Chief Rabbinate is up in arms as such a plan could end its monopoly and presumably its huge income flow. The Chief Rabbi is even reported to have claimed that female kosher supervisors will cause sexual immorality.

The announcement by Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana to reform the Kashrut system said it was being done to create competition, lower costs and provide business with more leverage.

As it is, Kashrut standards can vary from place to place across Israel and the charge can also vary depending on the size, type of business and where it is. In addition, businesses catering for the ultra-Orthodox community often pay extra for private certifications from particular local rabbinical courts. They may also require more than one to satisfy customers.

It is claimed that under the new reform, the Rabbinate will not only lose its monopoly on the word “kosher” but also the right to hand out kashrut certificates.

A quite different system will be introduced giving businesses a choice between two alternative tracks: one that takes its kashrut guidelines from the Rabbinate, or another that sets its own guidelines.

Those that follow the Rabbinate guidelines will receive their certificate from private corporations with 3 different levels of kashrut. The alternate route would be run by 3 prominent Orthodox rabbis including one municipal religious leader. They will be able to use the term “kosher”. So businesses would only need to pay for one type of certification.

The final details of this reform should go to the cabinet in time for the budget. However, it is so far not a done deal and will require a lot of cooperation. The Rabbinate has called the initiative dangerous and suggested it will destroy kashrut in Israel.

One of the biggest supporters of the changes have been the Modern Orthodox movement, who have questioned why the Rabbinate is making such a fuss and talked about the new system as one that offers a choice for varying needs, promoting competition and pluralism. It may possibly lead to an increase in the number of kosher eateries and even give an incentive for some to become kosher.

The Jewish Diaspora is closely monitoring this privatization reform.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President