The rabbis’ letter published last night (Tuesday) against the kosher reform of Minister of Religions Matan Kahana is another step in the struggle of rabbis from religious Zionism in the outline currently being promoted in the Knesset. However, although the rabbis mentioned in the letter sent on behalf of all of them oppose the kashrut outline, not all of them agree with the harsh wording.
A letter sent on behalf of the Association of Rabbis of the Good Land states that the reform does not benefit consumers, “and it harms the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.” It was also stated that the goal of the program is “to destroy the Chief Rabbinate. We call on the public and all rabbis not to lend a hand or to be partners in the destruction of kashrut in the State of Israel and in severe damage to the Jewish character of our country.”
Rabbi Chaim Druckman, an elder of the rabbis of religious Zionism whose name also appears on the published letter, does not renounce the letter even though his signature does not appear on it. At the same time, the rabbi expresses himself much less sharply than the wording in the letter: “There is no doubt that Minister Matan Kahana intends well, but rabbis say that in some things he is wrong,” says Rabbi Druckman in a conversation with Makor Rishon. “It is appropriate that his good intentions be expressed in a way that, in the opinion of the rabbis as well, this will benefit kosher and not, God forbid, harm it.”
Rabbi Druckman says that he himself did not deal with the issue of kashrut all his life but with the issue of education, but that “rabbis who dealt with the issue of kashrut in their lives claim that it was appropriate for things to be done in a different way.”
Rabbi Druckman opposes the statement that the Minister of Religions wants to destroy the Chief Rabbinate: “I emphasize, Minister Matan Kahana – God forbid he does not do things to destroy the Chief Rabbinate. He wants its good. Some also make mistakes. “
“I think it would have been appropriate to cooperate and find ways that things could work out so that no such disputes would be necessary,” Rabbi Druckman concludes.
Another rabbi who opposes the outline but in the same breath opposes the harsh wording of the letter is Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the Ashkenazi rabbi of Jerusalem. Rabbi Stern was very bothered by the implication of the letter that Minister Kahana was trying to destroy the Chief Rabbinate.
Despite his opposition, Rabbi Stern, to whom Minister Kahana is considered close, is in talks with the Minister of Religions regarding the changes that the rabbis want to make in the outline.
For example, according to the current wording of the outline, city rabbis are kosher providers and the chief rabbinate is the one that will oversee the bodies that will provide kosher services. Today, city rabbis give kosher to businesses but they also oversee them. Rabbi Stern’s proposal is that city rabbis will not grant kosher certificates but will only supervise kosher supervisors and kosher places and will have the authority to remove kosher from a business if necessary.
Another matter is the outline of the three rabbis, which is a route that bypasses rabbinate. Today it is the mayor who sets the criteria for kosher in his city. According to the outline, these will be three rabbis. Rabbi Stern opposes this route and also thinks that rabbis should give supervision to kosher providers. The Minister of Religions himself said that he was willing to deviate from the outline of the three rabbis and allow the rabbinate to set a uniform standard in kosher, but the reason the outline of the three rabbis exists is the lack of cooperation of the chief rabbinate and its desire not to talk about the outline.