Yerushalayim Kashrus Not What it Appearshttp://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/20858/Yerushalayim+Kashrus+Not+What+it+Appears.html
Kosherot is a relatively new organization headed by Dovid who opts not to reveal his real name realizing his investigation is stepping on many toes and could anger many and negatively impact their income.
As was reported over recent months by Jerusalem Kosher News, (JKN) there are a growing number of eateries in Yerushalayim with unauthorized and bogus kashrus certificates, most claiming to be "mehadrin" and "mehadrin min ha'mehadrin".
Such agencies include Nezer Hidur, Keter Kashrut, Nachlat Yitzchak and Keter Kashrut. In actuality, these agencies provide the mehadrin supervision for the majority of eateries in the downtown Jerusalem area, Ben-Yehuda, Jaffa, as well as the Central Bus Station and Malcha Mall.
As was verified by Dovid, and Jerusalem Kosher News, and by Rabbi Rafi Yochai, who heads the Kashrus Enforcement Division of the Chief Rabbinate, these stores either have a no-show mashgiach or no mashgiach at all.
Rav Yochai blames the lack of funding for additional inspectors, but even more, the lack of police interest. This was confirmed by Dovid and JKN, having cited court cases in which kashrus violators are dismissed, told the case 'lacks public interest' despite the fact fraudulent kashrus practices violate the country's penal law.
On the latest round of inspections in Yerushalayim in stores with these hechsherim, meats are not what they supposed to be, there is no mashgiach, bishul akum, and generally, no one in the store who is Shomer Shabbos.
In one case, I telephoned the Yerushalayim Rabbanut explaining I am opening a food store and I would like Rabbanut Mehadrin Kashrus. The person on the other end of the phone, who I will call Moshe, told me that I should take a different hechsher, which he will arrange when I am ready, for a fraction of the price of the Rabbanut mehadrin. This hinted at a conflict of interest to say the least, but admittedly, I did not follow up for a number of reasons.
The situation is no better in Tel Aviv, with a walk-around the new central bus station area revealing that some of the mehadrin hechsherim are nothing more than a copy of a kashrus certificate from Rav Auerbach's children duplicated and enlarged. At a glance, it appears to the average client to be a most pristine kosher certificate but in actuality, totally bogus.
One guideline for inexpensive mehadrin is – if it is too inexpensive, it may not be real since mehadrin meat and a mashgiach cost a great deal of money. As I pointed out in JKN research, there are many pitfalls in Yerushalayim and visitors must be extremely cautious before eating out.
I personally attempted to contact rabbonim from the Vaad HaRabbonim of Queens, the OU, and other agencies, but have not even received one response. It is imperative for rabbonim and agencies in N. America to warn visitors before arriving in Israel that all that one sees as mehadrin in Yerushalayim and elsewhere is possibly not mehadrin, and in some cases, there is a question if the food is even kosher, as per warnings issued by the Chief Rabbinate and others and from the information I uncovered in JKN. It is painful and alarming to see so many chareidi visitors to Yerushalayim who at home are painfully discriminatory regarding where they eat, and in the Jewish Capital, they enter any store with a Hebrew mehadrin sign, not realizing the poor standard of kashrus and the fact there is no mashgiach.
I personally spent weeks visiting stores with the certificates mentioned above and I dare say, never once, was a mashgiach present. Some more honest store employees told me, "What mashgiach. There is none."
For a comprehensive look at the difficult kashrus situation, one may visit Jerusalem Kosher News.
The group was launched in English a number of months ago, and files documenting much of what this organization has uncovered are revealed on, as well as in-depth reports of many restaurants in Yerushalayim, in malls and the central bus station.
There is also an extensive file displaying many of the kosher certificates to make the bogus and legitimate ones familiar to all. Click HERE to visit Jerusalem Kosher News.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)