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The Degeneration of Kashrut
by Menachem, based on Hebrew text

For Those Who Don't Eat Kosher Food

For Those Who Do Eat Kosher Food

What You Can Do

Identifying Idolatrous Kashrut

Supporting Freedom at the Supermarket


For Those Who Don't Eat Kosher Food

In Israel, the large supermarket chains carry only kosher products--that is, products that are deemed kosher by haredi organizations. As a result, many consumers are forced to pay high prices for a limited variety of products, often of poor quality. Furthermore, consumers who shop for pork, shellfish, different cuts of meat, or inexpensive yet respectable wines must search out small delicatessens and pay prices that are much higher than outside Israel.

Is this just a matter of simple economics? Mass production at one end and mass consumption at the other end? Is it not true that the vast majority of Israelis want only kosher foods in their stores, so the supermarkets supply only kosher foods, thereby taking advantage of higher quantities and lower prices?

The answer is, "Not really."

In fact, there are many Israelis who would like to purchase a mixture of both kosher and non-kosher foods. The reason the supermarkets sell only kosher foods is due to the threat of boycott by haredim. Aware of their power, the haredim can make demands from the chains that have no relation to halacha. In fact, haredim have demanded that supermarkets not sell any nonkosher products in any of their local stores--including stores that are in neighborhoods that have no haredi residents. If the chains sell nonkosher products in remote stores, the haredim will respond by boycotting the chains in their own neighborhoods.

In addition, haredi factions demand payment for issuing kashrut certificates. The cost of the mashgiach, the kashrut inspector, is borne by the supermarkets, who in turn pass this on to consumers who are not interested in kashrut. Even worse, many of these haredi factions are anti-Zionist, and use their funds from kashrut and other activities to subvert the state's institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Finance Ministry.


For Those Who Do Eat Kosher Food

If you maintain kashrut in your home, you are probably motivated by the beautiful verse in the Torah that we shouldn't cook a calf in its mother's milk. This verse is repeated three times, clearly indicating that the progenitors of kashrut were very compassionate, and wanted us to express compassion on animals by limiting what we eat.

Compare that with the current situation of kashrut certificates in Israel and abroad. Many kashrut certificates are issued because the vendor complies with requirements that have nothing to do with kashrut. For example, most major hotels in Israel retain their kashrut certificates because they do not allow mixed minyanim on their premises, or supermarkets are forced to sell certain types of products made by companies that comply with haredi policy in other areas, such as advertising and fund raising. There is no doubt that much surrounding kashrut has nothing to do with compassion and care for animals: money, power and influence are the main factors in today's kashrut certificates.

Most consumers of kosher products would not trust the judgment of a Christian or Hindu regarding the appropriateness of certain foods. Is a Chabad mashgiach, who believes the Rebbe is the Messiah, any better? Or a haredi mashgiach who received his position by being a powerful rabbi's nephew? The black coat doesn't convey any authority in matters of halacha! Why support organizations that actively work to delegitimize your form of Judaism?


What You Can Do

Be selective regarding what you purchase. Buy products that do not have a haredi stamp, and purchase those that have none, are self-supervised, or approved by normative Jewish movements such as moderate Orthodox rabbis. Below are some examples:

Perhaps the easiest action you can take is to ask your local supermarket for specific items. This would be more effective if many people ask for the same item.
Organize as a group in your neighborhood, and indicate to the store owner that you will purchase all your products at stores that carry the items you want.
Stop buying products that carry certifications from extremist organizations (see below).
For those who care about kashrut but are appalled by the political and financial considerations of the haredi establishment, start to develop alternative certification programs. The restaurant at Massada has a kashrut certificate issued by an alternative organization in Ra'anana.


Identifying Idolatrous Kashrut

Below is a table that lists some of Israel's leading companies that have either openly adopted radical haredi policies or have caved into haredi demands. Before patronizing these institutions, some of which are very well known, consider that a portion of the money you spend goes directly to causes that threaten both Israel and your very lifestyle.

Product Haredi kashrut Closed on Shabbat due to haredi pressure Discriminates against customers or employees based on religion or sex Advertises in haredi newspapers Supports haredi missionary activities Subsidiary of a company appearing in this table
Osem        
Tara        
Tnuva      
Vita          
Tempo          
Coca Cola          
Neka 7          
Sod          
Sano          
Golan Wineries, Segal Winery, Dalton Winery, Carmel Mizrahi          
Mei Eden          
Qavei Zahav (Golden Lines)          
Africa Israel          
Ramat Aviv Shopping Center (including movie theater)        
Holiday Inn Hotels          
Gottex Bathing Suits          


Supporting Freedom at the Supermarket

The following table lists companies that have demonstrated solid defiance of the haredi attack on democracy and freedom. Show them your support by sending them letters and purchasing their products!

Product Open on Saturday No Haredi Kashrut Certificate No Kashrut Certificate Defies Haredi Demands
Arkia      
Green House (function hall)    
Dutch House (function hall)    
Hypertoy      
Stores a kibbutzim      
Bat Sheva Dance Troupe      
McDonald's (some franchises)  
Ace Hardware      
Ma'adanei Mizra  
Domino's Pizza      
Israel Movie Theaters    


[author's note - I use the term haredi instead of ultra-Orthodox, because I believe these people, be they Shas or Degel HaTorah, Ashkenazi or Sepharadi, are not the incarnation of Polish or Iraqi Jewry they pretend to be. I also use the term "reborn" for hazara b'tshuvah, as the psychological metamorphosis among hozrei btshuvah is as tortuous and disorienting as those of intolerant reborn Christians in North America. (Note that many reborn Christians are very tolerant and cheerful.) Similarly, I don't use the term hiloni, which comes from the word hilul - to profane. Instead, I use the term "modern Jew," to include all Jews--secular or observant--who are not subject to the cultic behavior of haredim.]


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