Shas minister signs order ‘canceling’ kashrut reform law passed by Knesset

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

New Religious Services Minister Michael Malchieli has wasted no time in signing an order delaying the implementation of the kosher certification reform passed by the last government, in what is almost surely the first stop toward its eventual nullification.

The reform, passed by the Knesset last year, was slated to enable private organizations to provide supervision services — with oversight by the Rabbinate — starting on January 1, 2023.

Reversing the move, which would have eaten into the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher certification and allowed private firms to officially declare a restaurant or food business “kosher,” has been a major goal of Haredi politicians, some of whom are closely linked with the rabbinate’s supervision agencies.

Illustrative: Kashrut supervisors inspect produce at a fruit and vegetable warehouse on March 20, 2016. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

In order to fully prevent the reform from going into place, the incoming coalition will have to pass a law, but in the meantime a built-in mechanism allows Malchieli to postpone its implementation.

The 2021 law permits the religious services minister to delay implementation by six months if they determine that one or more municipalities aren’t prepared. This can be repeated for up to five years.

How Malchieli, who entered into his position a few hours ago, was able to reach such a conclusion is anyone’s guess, but it’s mostly a moot point, as the incoming coalition should be able to pass a new bill negating the previous government’s law before it’s relevant.

A copy of the order signed by Malchieli and tweeted by Army Radio declares that Chief Rabbinate-approved supervision will continue to be the only form of supervision that can call itself “kosher.”

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