JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli restaurants can tell patrons that they serve kosher food even if they do not have official kashrut certification from the state rabbinate, the Supreme Court ruled.
The ruling was handed down Tuesday and comes a year after the Supreme Court ruled that businesses cannot describe themselves as kosher unless they have official certification from the Chief Rabbinate.
According to the Law Prohibiting Fraud in Kashrut, “The owner of a food establishment may not present the establishment as kosher unless it was given a certificate of kashrut” by an official state or local rabbi.
Many restaurant owners complain that the rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher supervision leads to corruption, and a general adversarial relationship has developed between the businesses and the rabbinical supervisors. In response, several restaurants began using private supervision.
Chief Justice Miriam Naor wrote in the court’s decision that while a business cannot claim it is kosher, it can tell those who ask where it purchases its foodstuff and how it is prepared.
“Assuming it is telling the truth, nothing prevents a food establishment from clarifying that the meat it serves was purchased from a slaughterhouse that carries kosher certification; and that the fish it serves are only those with fins and scales,” Naor wrote, according to The Times of Israel.
The Israel Democracy Institute praised the ruling.
“By ruling that the rabbinate does not have sole authority to force businesses to obtain kashrut licenses, the High Court justifiably broke the kashrut monopoly,” Shuki Friedman, director of the Institute’s Center for Religion, Nation and State, said in a statement. “This decision is an important step toward privatizing the kashrut market.”