A household-name cafe was granted a kosher license Wednesday after signing up with a group that has challenged the state-appointed kosher approval service.
An Aroma coffeehouse located on Menachem Begin Road in Tel Aviv signed up to have Tzohar food inspectors supervise its products to ensure they meet kosher standards.
Until now, the branch had no kosher certification at all, and was open on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, when kosher-certified businesses are required to remain shuttered.
To qualify for the Tzohar kosher certification, the Aroma branch will stop operating on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and will adhere to strict requirements for the preparation of food on premises. It will continue to serve both meat and milk products, which will be kept entirely separate according to kosher demands.
Tzohar supervisors spent some two weeks working at the premises to bring it up to the required standards.
“This is further validation that the process of revolutionizing kashrut supervision in Israel is undergoing a real change,” Tzohar said in a statement. “This is exciting and important news for the Jewish people and the communities we are blessed to serve. Our vision and hope is to only continue to expand the number of kosher-observers in Israel, and we see that we are being increasingly successful in that regard.”
The Aroma chain, which has outlets all over the country, is in talks to possibly sign up more branches with Tzohar.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is embroiled in a long battle against grassroots efforts to wrest control of Israel’s kosher supervision process from the state-appointed ultra-Orthodox body.
The religious-Zionist Tzohar organization aims to bridge the gaps between secular and religious Israelis by finding alternatives to the rabbinate on matters like Jewish weddings, prayer services and now, kosher supervision.
A High Court of Justice ruling in September said restaurateurs were allowed to inform their clientele that they serve kosher food, provided they don’t explicitly designate themselves as a “kosher establishment.”
The decision, which was seen as a dent in the rabbinate’s control over the kosher supervision process, made way for Tzohar’s licensing division but also required it to provide a detailed explanation of the kosher standards in all of its restaurants.