Let’s Talk About This: Keeping Kosher vs. Internet Bullying

First, two quick facts about me:

  1. I’m Jewish
  2. I keep Kosher

These facts are important players in this story, which is partly about a Facebook post, but mostly about the horrendous politics of the Kashrut industry. (Kashrut = the state of being Kosher.)

The following picture was posted on Facebook, along with a plea to share it. Several of my friends had shared it, so I read it, and was ENRAGED.


Public Announcement to avoid certain Restaurants because of Kashrut dispute


This hereby is to announce to the public who observe kashrut in Jerusalem that we, the Rabbinate of Jerusalem are not responsible for what occurs in the following restaurants:

(List of 5 restaurants and their addresses)

AND that these restaurants sell non-kosher meat and vegetables which have not been supervised and contain abominable insects.

AND that the Certificates of Kashrut displayed in these places are provided by criminal institutions of Kashrut which are purposely deceiving the public.

The Department of Kashrut

Jerusalem Rabbinate

OK, wow. Fisrt of all, a little background: A restaurant can be considered Kosher by following certain guidelines, and if they do they receive a certificate of Kashrut which they are required to display to the public. The certificate can be revoked if they violate the Kashrut guidelines. However, the Kashrut industry also happens to be extremely corrupt, meaning, you can lose your certificate for other reasons, such as failing to pay rent, or insulting someone’s brother-in-law, which have nothing to do with Kashrut. It’s all about who you know.

Now let’s take a look at this announcement before we talk about the implications it has on society.

“Abominable insects” – Fair enough, I wouldn’t want to eat insects either. But come on, there’s no way the department of health would let them get away with not washing their lettuce.

“Purposely deceiving the public” – wow, that’s a nasty accusation. Why are we discussing this on Facebook instead of in court?

“The Certificates of Kashrut” – wait, what? They hold certificates of Kashrut? Oh, but they’re not applicable since they were provided by a different organization. Got it. (Am I the only one who thinks this sounds shady?)

There is a very important principle in Judaism which is giving the benefit of the doubt. Actually, in the case of Kashrut, we are supposed to assume that a person is not trying to cheat us or trick us into eating non-kosher food. (For more on this topic, see my post “Can You Eat in the Home of a Non-Observant Jew?“)

So, after sorting through these messy and dangerous thoughts, I wrote a comment on the post on one of my friends’ walls. I wrote,

“But how do we know it’s not just a matter of politics?”

And she responded,

“It could be. Why don’t you go eat in these places and then we’ll meet in the world to come and you can tell us if the food was not kosher, or if it was just about politics.” *(The world to come refers to the redemption, messiah, etc.)

All right, I was asking for it. Still, I was stunned by her response. The level of certainty with which she is able to say that every word of that post is %100 true, and back it up with the opinion of God in the world to come, well, that baffled me. I stewed over it all night, and decided that if she was going to play that card, why couldn’t I?

I went back to the post and wrote, “Deal!”

My response was erased within an hour, but as far as I’m concerned, we made a deal.

Here’s what I think. I don’t think it’s right to sabotage someone’s business because of a Facebook post (I have this strange habit of not believing everything I read on the internet.) This post provides me with no information with which to make an educated choice. What I see in this post is someone trying to destroy someone else’s business based on something I don’t know. Since I don’t know the story, I can’t really choose a side. But I think it’s important to support local businesses, and since they do have Kashrut certificates, who am I to decide they don’t apply? Who am I to agree with the statement that they are “purposely deceiving the public”? Who am I to help destroy someone’s source of income based on a story I’ve never even heard?

So I’m keeping the deal. My friends and I are going to go to these restaurants and eat their food and show our support. We’ll have a great time and make someone happy. We’ll make the important statement that we don’t buy into internet bullying.

So I was just trying to start a conversation. We can talk about this now if you like, but if you’d rather wait till “the world to come,” that’s fine with me.

9 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About This: Keeping Kosher vs. Internet Bullying

  1. Of course, there’s a middle-ground solution. Call up the organizations that DO supply these restaurants with certification and ask them if the certificates are real or fake. This way, no one needs to worry about kosher/not kosher. I happen to also be disgusted by the politicization of the kashrut industry. Just the fact alone that kashrut could be called an ‘industry’ tells you something, no? :-/

  2. You are absolutely right. Politics and kashrut do not belong in bed together. Your readers should understand that these restaurants are in a place where the vast majority of the population keeps kosher, and that indeed their business will suffer because of the allegations.

  3. First of all I would like to apologize. I’m the friend who referred Liora to the world to come be for i checked my facts.
    i personally called every restaurant on that list and talked to the “masgiach” and they are all kosher.

  4. BTW, I also loved the post entitled “Can You Eat in the Home of a Non-Observant Jew?”. I was given a “heter” to eat by non-religious family here in Israel that I am very close with, and now I understand why. Thanks so much for posting!

  5. …I think Jerusalem is only headed for more of this, sadly. I remember when they send Jewish landlords those letters about renting to non-Jews about a year or so ago. And didn’t they just tell cafes, and the like, not to have women working on certain days (or certain hours of the day?) so that the religious could eat there without distraction?

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