Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kosher Jerusalem ?


If a frum Jewish tourists arrives in Israel, he basically expects the country to be kosher. But is this really the case ? When I came to my second Kibbutzulpan for Kita Gimmel (Hebrew language course) years ago, we students found out that the Kibbutz provided us with pork steakes. 
"Not everything in Israel is KOSHER and even in the Holy Land you should get used to check what you put into your mouth !"

Many people say that the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv is mostly not kosher. This is true up to a certain degree. An elderly Arab couple sells non – kosher Laffa bread (flat Yemenite bread), the Manila Butcher sells pork and you can also buy shrimps. Nevertheless, is the Jerusalem Machane Yehudah Market more kosher than its counterpart in Tel Aviv ?

The blogger from "Jerusalem Kosher News" offers interesting Machane Yehudah Markte tours. He is an expert in dealing with the Kashrut business and on his tours he explains how some market stands use false Hechsherim (kosher certificates). Last week, I passed his tour while doing my shopping and I overheard some interesting news. His great explanations made me think of joining one of his tours.

What I overheard was shocking. The two stands where I have been buying salads, fish or olives for years offer their products as "Badatz Edah HaCharedit" but they themselves do not have a Hechsher. When you buy there and ask for a Hechsher, the salespeople show you the original cans with the Badatz Hechsher. However, they fill olives, salads or fish from the big cans with a Hechsher into small plastic boxes for selling.

I spoke to our bakery Mashgiach from Belz and he said that it is a matter of trust. Do you, as a customer, trust those salespeople at the stand when they tell you that all products actually have a Badatz – Hechsher ? Or is there a doubt and you should rather buy somewhere else where there is a valid kosher certificate ?

A grocery store doesn't have a special certificate for its cheese stand outside. Another store specializing in international cheeses doesn't have a Hechsher at all. Other stands hang out false Rabbanut (Chief Rabbinate) certificates without a stamp or phone number of the Mashgiach.

The Kashrut business is a huge business in Israel but not every café or restaurant is willing to invest in a Hechsher and paying a Mashgiach. Some offer their products as kosher but have Arabs working in the kitchen. Gentiles who even turn on the stove. However, this even happens quite a lot at businesses with a Rabbanut Hechsher whereas Badatz Belz as well as the Edah HaCharedit are much more strict. The same with "Chalav Nochri – Gentile Milk".

I very much recommend joining the tour in case you are a regular buyer at the Machane Yehudah Market. You may be surprised finding out which businesses are actually kosher and where the black sheep cheat.

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