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Rabbis seek to break monopoly on Israeli kosher certification

Tzohar rabbis offer an alternative to restaurants and hotels that want a kosher certification but are fed up with the Chief Rabbinate.
Kosher inspector Aaron Wulkan examines a fish in the kitchen of a catering business to check that it is kosher, ensuring that the food is stored and prepared according to Jewish regulations and customs, in Bat Yam, Israel October 31, 2016. Picture taken October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner - S1BEUKRRAFAB

The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization announced Feb. 26 the launch of an independent kosher food certification system for restaurants and hotels. The group stated that it did not intend to replace the Chief Rabbinate’s kosher oversight body or to compete with it, but to improve religious services to restaurateurs and also to clients.

This move generated angry reactions by the Chief Rabbinate, but it was rather surprising to see that the most vocal opposition to Tzohar’s new kosher (kashrut) certification initiative came from its own camp. On March 6, a group of rabbis long associated with Tzohar signed a petition opposing the initiative and calling for a boycott. In a conversation with Al-Monitor, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, a leader of Tzohar, said that those rabbis opposed to the initiative identify with the ultra-Orthodox nationalist sector. In other words, their positions concerning religious law are closer to those of the ultra-Orthodox.

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