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Chief Rabbi Lau denounces government kashrut reforms

CM 03/08/2021

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Chief Rabbi David Lau denounced on Tuesday reforms being advanced by the government to the kashrut supervision system, which would bring an end to the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over the market. 
Last month, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana announced a reform that would allow independent kashrut authorities to provide kashrut supervision, with the Chief Rabbinate establishing standards and functioning as a regulator, including operating an inspection authority to oversee the work of the independent authorities. 
According to the proposed reform, if independent authorities seek to operate under alternative standards, a municipal chief rabbi together with two other rabbis with qualifications to serve as municipal chief rabbis can establish their own kashrut authority under their own guidelines, which would still be subject to the Chief Rabbinate’s inspection authority. 
Lau delineated his opposition to the reforms in a letter to his colleague Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. The letter welcomed the Council of the Chief Rabbinate’s Monday decision to oppose the proposals. 

In  his letter, Lau claimed that religiously traditional Israelis and tourists would suffer from the reforms, which are currently part of the state budget’s arrangements law, since they would not know how to discern between reliable and unreliable kashrut authorities. 
He also attacked the reform’s central idea of creating competition between kashrut authorities, saying such competition would harm the level of kashrut.
In addition, Lau criticized Kahana’s proposals, without mentioning him explicitly, for not consulting with a Chief Rabbinate committee that was established in order to examine options to improve the quality of kashrut supervision in the country. 
The committee was established back in March 2016, and it made modest proposals for reform which were never implemented by the Chief Rabbinate. 
Lau also attacked the “three rabbis” alternative track for establishing a kashrut authority, saying such rabbis would lack experience in kashrut supervision, and compared the track to an alternative health ministry run by three coronavirus-denying doctors. 
Lau also alleged that those who were happy with the proposals were the same people who “harm the Jewish character of the State of Israel,” and that this proves that the proposals are not designed to help Judaism.
He added that he hoped the Council of the Chief Rabbinate would convene shortly “to discuss how Israel’s rabbis should act on this issue,” as well as how to react to upcoming reforms to the conversion process that Kahana also plans to introduce. 
Kahana did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lau’s criticisms. 

Source: Jerusalem Post

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