A Jerusalem restaurant was deprived of its kosher certificate Monday, due to its employment of an Arab cook, its owner said.
Yaakov Ben Elul, the owner of “Kalo,” on Bethlehem Road, said a kosher supervisor who arrived at the restaurant demanded that the cook stop making omelettes.
For regular kosher certificates, the Rabbinate demands that only Jewish workers light the fire on the stove, but non-Jews are not prohibited from cooking.
However, the restaurant recently installed an induction stove, apparently prompting the supervisor to claim cook Mustafa could no longer use it at all.
“He was disrespecting my employee and telling him he couldn’t work here… and that he wanted to take the certificate,” Ben Elul told Jerusalem’s Kol Hair paper. “I told him, ‘If you don’t show respect here, I can’t respect you. You need to respect the man you are speaking to at least.’ So he told me, ‘I’m taking the certificate.’
“For 25 years, the restaurant has had a kosher certificate. In the end, I said, ‘You want the certificate? Take it.'”
On social media, calls grew for the public to support “Kalo” in light of the supervisor’s actions, with many seeing it as the latest example of the Rabbinate’s overreach.
Critics have long contended that the Rabbinate’s kashrut supervision system is poorly managed and riddled with corruption and kickbacks, and constitutes a bottleneck that helps drive up the cost of food.
Many opponents of the Rabbinate’s monopoly, from liberal Jewish streams to some Israeli municipal rabbis, have also argued that the ritual status of food is a religious matter over which different traditions may disagree, and that the Rabbinate’s control over the very term “kosher” in the Israeli public space therefore amounts to religious oppression by the state.