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Israeli government advances ground-breaking reform for private kosher certification

New Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana is not afraid of the ultra-Orthodox parties; he advances an unprecedented reform on kosher certification.
Rabi Aaron Leibowitz (C), the founder of Hashgach Pratit — Hebrew for private supervision — which checks if restaurants abide by kosher practices, signs a certificate for the new bar Eitan Steinberg in the center of Jerusalem, June 8, 2016.

Israel’s new government is often called “the government of change.” Admittedly, the ideological differences between its members have resulted in slow, often plodding change. On the other hand, when it comes to matters of religion and state, the changes being introduced could run deep. The main reason for this is the absence of any ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition. These parties have a long track record of interfering with any reforms or changes on issues like conversion, opening the economy on the Sabbath, and so on. Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has, in fact, taken steps to incorporate ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce.

The new Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana, a former fighter pilot, is a religious man and a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, which tries to give voice to the moderate wing of the religious Zionist movement. One month after assuming office, Kahana introduced a reform to rules concerning kosher certification services for businesses, which had been dominated exclusively by the Chief Rabbinate until now.

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