Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kosher Hypocrisy

Long time readers know that I'm not the biggest fan of the Conservatives' Magan Tzedek "hechsher".  Designed to ensure that food products it supervises have been ethically produced, it probably will have a minimal impact at best.  While it sounds like a good idea, it won't make a difference for most people and will probably be remembered in a few decades as a really good idea that never went anywhere.
However, I have noted that my response to it has been mild compared to some others.  Rav Avi Shafran, for example, has repeatedly written about how terrible an idea it is.  He has criticized it repeatedly from his spot on Cross Currents as a wholesale attempt to change the definition of kashrus.  From the vehemence of his writing one might almost think that he felt threatened by the idea that there are folks out there who want to know that not only the shechitah but also the rest of the process that brought the brisket to their table was done ethically.
Thus we were repeatedly told that Rubashkin's multiple lapses and illegal practices were irrelevant (when not outright invented by those nasssssty goyim looking for Yid to hang) to whether the product was kosher.  None of stuff about illegal immigrants, poverty wages and animal cruelty were the least bit important.
That's what makes this story out of Israel so curious:
A Haredi-owned Jerusalem restaurant will be restricting the working hours of waitresses in order to receive the strict mehadrin kashrut certificate.
The veteran eatery, Heimische Essen, in Rehavia, will cease employing waitresses on Thursday nights, a favorite time for yeshiva boys to patronize the eatery.
Waitresses at the restaurant, which serves Eastern European specialties to a variety of people, are modestly dressed, although some of them are not Orthodox.
According to the owner, Haim Safrin, zealots, "who are jealous of the place's success," pressured the kashrut supervisors of the strict Agudat Israel high religious court, known as the Badatz, to stop waitresses from working on Thursday nights.
The Badatz is a private body which grants kashrut certificates and supervision over and above that provided by the Chief Rabbinate. The demand for waitress-free Thursday nights is unusual, but it is not unusual for bodies granting kashrut certificates, including the state-run Chief Rabbinate, to withdraw or threaten to withdraw a certificate for reasons that have nothing directly to do with food, such as the religious or spiritual affiliation of the owners or event halls that hold weddings for gay couples.

But hang on.  What does the person serving the vittles have to do with whether or not the food is kosher?  Is kosher supervision about the food in the restaurant or also about what goes into the food getting to the table?  And if women in the presence of heiliger yeshiva boys makes the food treif, why doesn't animal cruelty?  Or abuse of labourers?
So which is it?  Is kashrus just about the food, the rest of the process be damned as per Rav Shafran, or is it about the environment as much as the food as per his Israeli counterparts?
Or is this just hypocrisy?
Now, I can understand the supervising authority's position.  They are not only worried about kosher food for the boys that eat there but a kosher environment as well and having declared women to be treif and back of the bus material they want a female waitress in the restaurant about as much as they want a piece of pork to be there. 

5 comments:

Shlomo1 said...

Not exactly the first time I believe that the Rabbanut withdrew Kashrut supervision from a hotel that featured belly dancers and that this case went to the courts because in Israel Kashrut has legal status

Nate said...

What about the lost wages of those waitresses? What are they supposed to think about Yeshiva Bochurs, that we're all sex craze maniacs that cannot control ourselves when we look at a modestly dressed woman? IF that's true what does that say about the halachot of tzniut?

Adam Zur said...

It is an arms race. Except that the escalation is going in the direction of covering the arms, not increasing them

ahg said...

Everyone remember the "Glatt Yacht" of the early 90s?

Adam Zur said...

orthodox Judaism is defined by what it is against. This is the opposite of my Judaism which is defined by what i am for. But this is also the reason i am not so happy about some of the off the path sites which seem to be mainly against things. For many people Judaism is defined by being against gentiles or by dress codes. This seems to me to be wrong. I see Torah as defined more by the Talmud and how devoted to Hashem one is. These seem to me to be two completely different religions.