Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has raised ire with his legal opinion allowing restaurants to present themselves as kosher even if they don't have a kashrut certificate from the Chief Rabbinate or local rabbinate – an opinion cancelling Israeli law that has existed since the founding of the modern Jewish state.
Rabbi Eliyahu Shlezinger, the chief rabbi of the Gilo neighborhood in southern Jerusalem and a former posek (adjudicator of Jewish law) for the Jerusalem rabbinate, told Arutz Sheva just how damaging Weinstein's position can be.
"I'm not a jurist; I think you don't need to be a jurist to understand that when the law says an establishment cannot present itself as kosher unless it has a kashrut certificate from the local rabbinate – that's the wording of the law," fumed Rabbi Shlezinger.
"Either let them cancel the law or change it, but today you can't say that black is white," said the rabbi, noting how Weinstein's position blatantly opposes the law. "Someone can't present themselves as kosher if they don't have a kashrut certificate."
Weinstein, who has called for fines against two restaurants falsely presenting themselves as kosher to be lifted as well, is seeking to overturn a law meant to create uniformity in the kashrut process, ensuring that no false certificates are given to institutions that actually do not meet the requirements of Jewish law and serve non-kosher food.
Speaking about the possible ramifications, Rabbi Shlezinger said, "this situation which Weinstein is striving for will bring about a state of abandonment, complete abandonment."
"A portion of the public doesn't know to distinguish and if it's written that it's kosher, then that means it's kosher. Who will determine kashrut? Reform or maybe Conservative rabbis, or just charlatans who want to make money – there's a huge stumbling-block here," he warned.
"It took us years to fix what happened before we got to the rabbinate in Jerusalem, now that could go backwards in a major way," the rabbi said. "Anyone who wants to will be able to put up a kashrut certificate. Anyone who wants to will buy meat at Deir al-Assad (an Arab town in the Galilee – ed.) and say it's kosher. There are people here who don't understand kashrut."
Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau also warned against Weinstein's proposal, noting on Wednesday, "anyone can call himself a 'rabbi.' Unlike the case with 'lawyer' or 'doctor,' the term 'rabbi' is not protected by law with specific standards."
"Under this decision, anyone can call himself a 'rabbi' and grant a kashrut certificate, deceiving the public which will not be aware of who the granting party is. We will work with the new government to ensure that this deception is nipped in the bud," said Rabbi Lau.