Monday, February 23, 2009

jerusalm kashrus #5

29 Tevet 5769Monday, February 23, 2009

Some quick updates pertaining to a number of Jerusalem establishments.
1. About 10 days ago, the Jerusalem Rabbinate removed the mehadrincertification from the Yossi Pekin meat restaurant in the Bet HaKeremarea of the capital. The mehadrin certification has since beenreturned, with the religious council kashrut officials carefullymonitoring the status of the store, which is now ‘on trial’ untilPesach, at which time the Jerusalem Rabbinate will review the case andmake a determination regarding the future. The kashrut certificate wasremoved for major kashrus violations.
2. Moshiko Shwarma at 5 Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem was mentionedearlier in one of my reports, having two bogus hechsherim. The bogushechsherim are now gone, replaced by Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin andOU Israel.
3. The Chef, a new meat restaurant located at 9 HaDfus Street in GivatShaul area of Jerusalem has Jerusalem Rabbinate Mehadrin supervision.
4. I met today with Rav Yitzchak Iluitzsky, who directs the JerusalemReligious Council Kashrut Division. I learned a great deal regardingthe general operation of the Jerusalem Rabbinate. One point worthmentioning is the fact that some time ago, the rabbi changed the fontof the date on certificates, making it considerably larger, anddisplaying not only the Hebrew expiration date, but also the Gregoriandate alongside to assist visitors and locals unfamiliar with theHebrew calendar. The rabbinate’s certificates also display the storename and address in red. Therefore, these three main features, name,address, and expiration date, are easily seen on their certificates.
5. HaMarush Shwarma – 2 Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem – the signstates mehadrin but the certification is regular Jerusalem rabbinate.(There are a growing number of stores with signs stating “mehadrin”while the certification is not. You MUST look at the kashrutcertificate and you MAY NOT rely on store signs or advertisements tomake such a determination).

****Please pass this along and encourage a friend to sign up, for free, to assist in getting the word out to as many people as possible.Thanks for listeningYechiel SpiraJerusalem Kosher

Thursday, February 19, 2009


February 13, 2009-Op-Ed Contributor-The Maggots in Your Mushrooms-By E. J. LEVY

THE Georgia peanut company at the center of one of our nation’s worst food-contamination scares has officially reached a revolting new low: a recent inspection by the Food and Drug Administration discovered that the salmonella-tainted plant was also home to mold and roaches.

You may be grossed out, but insects and mold in our food are not new. The F.D.A. actually condones a certain percentage of “natural contaminants” in our food supply — meaning, among other things, bugs, mold, rodent hairs and maggots.

In its (falsely) reassuringly subtitled
booklet “The Food Defect Action Levels: Levels of Natural or Unavoidable Defects in Foods That Present No Health Hazards for Humans,” the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition establishes acceptable levels of such “defects” for a range of foods products, from allspice to peanut butter.

Among the booklet’s list of allowable defects are “insect filth,” “rodent filth” (both hair and excreta pellets), “mold,” “insects,” “mammalian excreta,” “rot,” “insects and larvae” (which is to say, maggots), “insects and mites,” “insects and insect eggs,” “drosophila fly,” “sand and grit,” “parasites,” “mildew” and “foreign matter” (which includes “objectionable” items like “sticks, stones, burlap bagging, cigarette butts, etc.”).
Tomato juice, for example, may average “10 or more fly eggs per 100 grams [the equivalent of a small juice glass] or five or more fly eggs and one or more maggots.” Tomato paste and other pizza sauces are allowed a denser infestation — 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams or 15 or more fly eggs and one or more maggots per 100 grams.

Canned mushrooms may have “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or an “average of 75 mites” before provoking action by the F.D.A.
The sauerkraut on your hot dog may average up to 50 thrips. And when washing down those tiny, slender, winged bugs with a sip of beer, you might consider that just 10 grams of hops could have as many as 2,500 plant lice. Yum.

Giving new meaning to the idea of spicing up one’s food, curry powder is allowed 100 or more bug bits per 25 grams; ground thyme up to 925 insect fragments per 10 grams; ground pepper up to 475 insect parts per 50 grams. One small shaker of cinnamon could have more than 20 rodent hairs before being considered defective.

Peanut butter — that culinary cause célèbre — may contain approximately 145 bug parts for an 18-ounce jar; or five or more rodent hairs for that same jar; or more than 125 milligrams of grit.
In case you’re curious: you’re probably ingesting one to two pounds of flies, maggots and mites each year without knowing it, a quantity of insects that clearly does not cut the mustard, even as insects may well be in the mustard.

The F.D.A. considers the significance of these defects to be “aesthetic” or “offensive to the senses,” which is to say, merely icky as opposed to the “mouth/tooth injury” one risks with, for example, insufficiently pitted prunes. This policy is justified on economic grounds, stating that it is “impractical to grow, harvest or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring, unavoidable defects.”
The most recent edition of the booklet (it has been revised and edited six times since first being issued in May 1995) states that “the defect levels do not represent an average of the defects that occur in any of the products — the averages are actually much lower.” Instead, it says, “The levels represent limits at which F.D.A. will regard the food product ‘adulterated’ and subject to enforcement action.”

Bugs in our food may not be so bad — many people in the world practice entomophagy — but these harmless hazards are a reminder of the less harmless risks we run with casual regulation of our food supply. For good reason, the F.D.A. is focused on peanut butter, which the agency is considering reclassifying as high risk, like seafood, and subjecting it to special safety regulations. But the unsettling reality is that despite food’s cheery packaging and nutritional labeling, we don’t really know what we’re putting into our mouths.
Soup merits little mention among the products listed in the F.D.A.’s booklet. But, given the acceptable levels for contaminants in other foods, one imagines that the disgruntled diner’s cri de coeur — “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!” — would be, to the F.D.A., no cause for complaint.
E. J. Levy is a professor of creative writing at the University of Missouri.

kashrus in israel #4

Rabbonim in Eretz Yisrael: Palm Oil Problem Doesn’t Exist Here

While we haven’t yet begun cleaning our homes for Pesach, the kashrusindustry is quite busy, making preparations and checking factories ascompanies are manufacturing and shipping kosher for Pesach goods. Palmoil is used in the food industry year round, but the demand on Pesach increases because it does not contain kitnios and it among therelatively affordable non-kitnios Pesach oils.

In America however, rabbonim are discussing problems pertaining to fears there may be a kashrus question surrounding the oil this year.It appears the mehadrin oil is delivered in tankers that also carry traif oil. In Eretz Yisrael, rabbonim believe the problem does not exist, stating it only impacts oil delivered to North America. At times, the oil is bottled in the factory but more often, it is dumped into the enormous vats onboard ships, and delivered in the belly of the tankers. Due to the oil’s properties and tendency to solidify in colder temperatures, the ships’ hull is heated to permit the oil to maintain its fluid property.

This rabbonim explain just makes the problem more complex. According to Rav Yehuda Sharshevsy of Maskel L’David, under the leadership of HaGaon Rav Aaron Nesher Shlita, when the hot water heating the vats runs across them, as well as across the vats of non-kosher oils, the outer lining of the vats are contaminated and absorband this can actually make the kosher oil traif. The oil delivered from the Far East to Israel he explains is less of a problem because they rarely manufacture traif oils there. Tankers heading for NorthAmerica however are a different story he explains because they stop at different ports along the way, in countries were non-kosher oils may indeed be loaded on the vessel.

Rabbonim explain the problem is not a new one, but it was only detected recently, by rabbonim of the OU in the United States, who areengaged in halachic discussions as addressing the difficulty.One might think the easiest solution is to bottle the oil in factories but this is not practical since much of it is used in the commercial food industry and bottling in 1 liter or similar size bottles does not provide an acceptable solution for the industry.Most poskim today forbid oil heated by the same system that heats traif oil, Rav Sharshevsky explains, but there are rabbonim who adopt a more lenient ruling. One of the reasons is that a chemical agent that prevents rust is also introduced into the heating system’s line,thereby rendering it ‘unfit’ (pagum) so anything absorbed does notrender the kosher oil traif. Another reason for adopting a lenientposition is the fact the temperature is low, below boiling and below cooking temperature.

Nevertheless, most rabbonim will not approve the oil that was heated by the same system which heats non-kosher oil. Rabbonim involved in the oil production and delivery stress that in Eretz Yisrael, the matter is under control, even for the mehadrin community. Rabbonim of the Jerusalem-based Eida Chareidis explain that before mehadrin oil under its supervision is loaded into tankers on trains or boats, they kasher the tanks their stringent level to make sure the oil is introduced into an acceptable environment without and fears ofrendering the oil non-kosher. A mashgiach rides along with the oil shipment as well, in trains, boats or whatever, making certain no non-kosher oils are loaded on board with the kosher mehadrin oil.

The same holds true with the supervision of Badatz Rav Moshe Yehuda Leib Landau Shlita of Bnei Brak, explains that oil for this Pesach isalready on its way, in bottles and tanks, and prior to introducing anyoil into a tank, his mashgichim clean and inspect the tanks. As is the case with the Eida Chareidis, the mashgichim accompany the shipment toits final destination, Eretz Yisrael. When the shipment arrives in Eretz Yisrael, the rabbonim of these mehadrin hechsherim inspect the paperwork with a fine tooth comb,making certain the documents match what they knew from the point of origin. If they learn or even suspect that somehow the boat accepted non-kosher oil on its way to Eretz Yisrael, they will not grant ahechsher on the shipment.

According to kashrus expert Rav Moshe Mordechai Silber of the BelzeMachzikei Hadas supervision, the problem is a known one and it only exists on shipments sent to the United States, not Israel. This is whyhe explains that in Israel, they will not import the oil from N.America. The oil is imported directly from Malaysia and Indonesia,where they do not produce non-kosher oil. As with the Eida Chareidis and Rav Landau, Belze also sends mashgichim who accompany the oil throughout the entire process until it reaches Eretz Yisrael. Anyproblems along the way will render the shipment unsuitable and it will not receive the Belze certification. According to Rav Yaakov Silber of the Rav Simcha HaCohen Kook –Rechovot Mehadrin explains their hechsher only imports the palm oil for Pessach, and not during the year. The hechsher only imports closed sealed bottles, avoiding many of the problems.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kusher Li'Pesach?

Quinoa cooks like rice, and it is considered as "kitnios", not to be used on Pesach.

There is a "Heter" being used called "kitnios-she'nish'tanu". The major kosher certifiers use that Heter unbeknown to many of the kosher consumers, be an educated kosher consumer-ASK. Ask all of certifiers if they utilize that "heter" and all items that are affected.

Many kosher certifiers do not have a full time Mashgiach present at productions. Not too far back it was the accepted practice to have a full time Mashgiach present at all Pesach productions. The full time Mashgiach at Pesach productions was curtailed to a big degree, the reason being that a certain kosher certifier (not from the NY Metro area) was charging less & not requiring Mashgichim at the Pesach productions, so everyone followed-Financial interests was in charge.

As an asides: That same kosher certifier also has very low kashrus standards in general, so they were able grab many of the Hashgochas in China-as their costs were less. Many of the other kosher certifiers had to follow suit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Israeli kashrus concerns.

Chief Rabbinate Kashrut Update 009February 17, 200923 Tevet 5769

Erroneous LABELING ON TOMATO PRODUCTSPri Nir Company – Lower Galil – tomato products with a regularhechsher from shmitah year were erroneously labeled as mehadrin with aRabbinate supervision in addition to Badatz Agudat Yisrael. It hasbeen decided that all tomato products from the factory from here onare only regular and not mehadrin supervision. Restaurants andcaterers are requested not to use any of the company’s products markedwith a mehadrin label.

CHEESE WARNINGGold Frost Ltd from Yavne – Bulgarian cheese in olive oil and spices –product code 7290011615406, under the name “Kolios” and with atriangle K supervision (Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag) with the approval of theChief Rabbinate of Israel. It appears the containers of cheese lackthe proper markings of the mashgiach and therefore, there are fearsthe cheese is not kosher and should not be used. Rav Ralbag adds hedoes not undertake any responsibility for the packages that do nothave his stamp of kashrut approval.

NATURAL SOURCE PILLSNatural Source 500mg vitamin C tablets bearing a BCK hecher (Rabbi EliLandau) are fraudulently marked and do not have his supervision, nordoes the product have the approval of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.The product produced by Vita Health Canada contains non kosheringredients. Anyone finding the product on store shelves is asked tocontact BCK at 604-731-1803 or email

PRODUCE REGULATIONSThe Chief Rabbinate informs chain stores to only accept delivery ofproduce from recognized distributers and factories, presenting theappropriate bills of lading with accompanying letter of koshercertification. There are now strawberries and other products comingstraight from growers, bypassing the system, eliminating the abilityto verify the integrity of their kashrut.

PURIM HAMENTASHEN ALERT (OZNEI HAMAN)With Adar rapidly approaching, the Purim hamentashen (oznei Haman)cakes will soon be seen in the marketplace. Purchasers must be certainto only buy products in sealed boxes with recognized known localrabbinate supervisions. Boxes with new or unknown supervisions shouldnot be purchased, as is the case with unmarked bulk shipments. Awarning is also issued for hamentashen selling at too low a price,which may signal a non-kosher item, non-Jewish baking, a dairyproduct, unsifted flour, dough used without separating challah, or non-kosher fillings. To avoid such obstacles, a valid legitimate bill oflading and appropriate kashrut certification must accompany everyshipment.

KASHRUT ALERTSPETACH TIKVAH: HaKohanim Shwarma – 22 Histadrut Street, advertisesitself as glatt kosher under Petach Tikvah Rabbinate. The store has nosupervision whatsoever.

HERZLIYA: Sim Sim Thai Box Restaurant, 56 Ben-Gurion Street – thelocal Rabbinate has revoked its supervision as of Feb 1, 2009.

UPPER NAZARETH: Lo Katchina Pizza on Shoshanim Street has lost itssupervision.Garin Tavlin Nuts, also on Shoshanim Street, lost its supervision.

NAHARIYA: The Park Plaza and Sole Marine Hotels no longer have a localrabbinate supervision.

CHIEF RABBINATE KASHRUT: Beit HaKliya Zahti is not under therabbinate nationwide supervision.

RISHON L’TZION: HaKol D’vash at 8 Rothschild Street. It advertisesitself as kosher on its label but does not have any legal supervision.Shvil HaDagin at 4 Rothschild Street. It advertises itself as kosheron its label but does not have any legal supervision.

YAHUD: 11 Sa’adya Chatucha Street – its packaging states kosher but itdoes not have any supervision from the local rabbinate.

TEL AVIV: Tike Tezi, 15 Aliya Street (at the corner of 54 Luwinsky)advertises itself as kosher. It does not have supervision from therabbinate but displays other certificates.In the Maariv Building at 53 Menachem Begin Street: The “Catering”operation advertises as kosher but lacks any supervision from theRabbinate.The Pargiot Metamei HaGrill Restaurant, 23 Carlebach Street. The TelAviv Rabbinate revoked its supervision.Bar Kokis, 31 Sheirit Yisrael Street, The Tel Aviv Rabbinate revokedits supervision.Ta’ami Restaurant, HaSharon Street, an adjoining door, without anymarking, has baked good under the label Gidron, displaying a photocopyof the Petach Tikvah Rabbinate when in actuality, it does not have anysupervision.

GAN RAVEH:The Mesech Helman Company – Rabbi Tzuri Ne’eman Shlita wishes toinform consumers that he gives the supervision along with the BrenerRegional Rabbinate.

The original PDF Hebrew file may be found on the Jerusalem Kosher Newsgroup website in the “File” section at Yaakov SabagChief of Kashrut DivisionRabbi Rafi YochaiChief of National Kashrut Fraud PreventionFor questions, or comments please send me an email . I will do my best to respond.Yechiel Spira

kashrus in Israel#3

Tuesday, February 17, 200923 Tevet 5769

Hi folks,Baruch Hashem, the feedback that I continue to receive signals theowner of Mitz Pri in Geula has received the message, that [former]patrons demand a legitimate kosher hechsher if he expects them toreturn.To my dismay, a number of readers shared their experiences with me,and it appears the gentleman who owns the Mitz Pri fruit juice storeis easily agitated and did become verbally abusive. In a number ofcases, he threw objects are patrons to dared to question thelegitimacy of the photocopied meaningless Badatz Chatam Sofer letterhanging on both sides of his store, ordering them to leave.This brings me to my first point of clarification.
I am not stating the Badatz Chatam Sofer [and there are two, Petach Tikvah and BneiBrak for those who are unfamiliar] is good or bad. That is for each of you to decide on your own or to ask your spiritual mentor, rav or expert. What I am saying however is that you must acquaint yourself with a hechsher, and know the difference between that and a meaningless photocopy.In this case, Mitz Pri, the photocopy states that good manufactured in a certain factory are under the Chatam Sofer supervision. While this may be the case, we are not guaranteed that the goods from this factory are used in his store, or if they are, if they are exclusive or are other items used in addition.We as consumers must learn to differentiate between a legitimate kosher certificate and a piece of paper with Hebrew writing that does not have bearing on an establishment’s kashrut.
SECOND POINT I feel a need to remind you that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has determined there are many ‘unauthorized’ agencies posing as legitimate kosher certifying agencies. They have inundated the capital and are also operating elsewhere, including but not limited to Tel Aviv and Tiveria.This IS NOT my subjective opinion but the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate. I will however add that the Rabbinate for legal and other considerations opts to use the word ‘unauthorized’ but I will say they are outright bogus. After two years of walking the streets and reporting on Jerusalem eateries, as well as other cities, I can tell you they DO NOT have supervision.
The kashrut consists of a certificate and a monthly visitto collect money.They use buzz words like “Beit Yosef”, “mehadrin”, “glatt”, and so-forth. The group website contains many many articles that can substantiate the statements such as some during the past shmitah year claiming ‘shmitah l’chumra’ while they used pre-bought chips (Frenchfries) that were heter mechira. This is one very small example. In another case, in Malcha Mall, one “mehadrin” store claiming Beit Yosef meat was using other meat, as per the mashgiach of the Jerusalem Rabbinate.

Anyway, the list of ‘unauthorized’ agencies includes but is notlimited to:
1. Nachlat Yitzchak
2. Keter Kashrut
3. Keter Mehadrin
4. Hidur Mehadrin
5. Mor Levona
6. Ichud Yisrael
7. Mishmar HaKodesh
8. Nezer Hidur
9. Rav Yaakov Landau (Beersheva)To see most of the actual teudot, visit our website at on the list and relatively new to the marketplace are:
1. Kisei Eliyahu ( not a great photo2. Tiferet Kashrut, which is exactly the same looking as Kisei Eliyahu This means if an establishment has a Jerusalem Rabbinate regular certification and one of the bogus mehadrin ones, it is really NOT mehadrin.

Yes, I know, how can this be and so-forth, it must be good since it is out in the open, but sorry folks, it is not the case. For those of your following the list, I have given example after example of many of these agencies not fulfilling the most basic requirements of mehadrin supervision, especially for a meat restaurant.Please pass this along and encourage a friend to sign up, for free, to assist in getting the word out to as many people as possible.

Thanks for listeningYechiel SpiraJerusalem Kosher Newsjerusalemkn@gmail.comTo join the Jerusalem Kosher News list, visit: received this message because you are subscribed to the GoogleGroups "Jerusalem Kosher News" group.To contact the list manger and editor-in-chief, please send an email to unsubscribe from this group, send email tojerusalemkosher-unsubscribe@googlegroups.comFor more options, visit this group at

Monday, February 16, 2009

kashrus in Israel #2

Mitz Pri – Fruit JuiceGeula, JerusalemThursday, February 12, 2009Hi folks,I happened to get to the Geula area of Yerushalayim today, not havingplanned the trip.

I made the time to enter the popular Mitz Pri (FruitJuice) Store located on HaYeshiva Street, opposite Salon GeulaElectronics and next to the supermarket down the flight of stairs.With Shabbos on the horizon and Baruch Hashem lots of guests, there isno time to get into a long report. Bottom line, this guy has NO HECHSHER AT ALL.

He has another one of the bogus Badatz Chatam Sofer photocopiedletters on his wall that is absolutely meaningless and he relies onthe fact that he is situated in Geula and everyone “assumes” he isBadatz Eida Chareidit or another great supervision.He has some frozen fruits, berries in particular, that no respectableBadatz hechsher will give supervision due to the issue of buginfestation.Please, please pass the word around. Many yeshiva and seminarystudents are drinking his product, believing “it is Geula so it mustbe good”. This guy has no supervision!Shabbat ShalomYechiel Spira

Sunday, February 15, 2009

israel kashrus # 2

Shuk Machane Yehuda ReportStarted on:10 Shvat 5769February 4, 2009Completed on motzei Shabbos:Eve of 14 ShvatFebruary 7, 2009

This report will attempt to present a picture to you; one that I hope will clearly demonstrate the need to read teudot kashrut beforebuying, even in a store that is familiar. The “Shuk” as Machane Yehudah as come to be known, is a maze of stores and stalls, offering anarray of fresh and packaged foods, raw and cooked. Along with this enticing assortment of shopping possibilities, comes a complex reality of kashrut, which in my humble opinion leaves a lot to be desired.

Today, the “shuk” has undertaken its new Soho ambience with aselection of cafes, further complicating the eating scene.First of all, before you can go any further, you must realize that the idiom “everything in Israel/Jerusalem is kosher” is simply NOT amatter of fact. To my dismay, this is not a matter of kosher versesmehadrin, but in some cases, it is a matter of simple kosher versesnon-kosher. Let me begin with a brief introduction which will undoubtedly serve toassist in our journey into the shuk.

Rafi Yochai, who heads the Chief Rabbinate Kashrut Fraud Division, explained a number of things to me.For one thing, a store does not have to have a kosher certificationand as is the case, there are a growing number of stalls selling theirfoods without a kashrut from the Rabbinate. For as long as they do nothang any signs claiming to be kosher, they have not broken any laws.In fact, at least from my observations, they do not need to state“kosher” since shoppers make a general assumption and their businessesseem to be flourishing despite the fact that do not claim to bekosher. I live near the shuk so I see guys walking around without a yarmulke, some driving on Shabbos, yet when they are behind the counter at work, they wear a yarmulke.

My point is that seeing ayarmulke (kippa) is meaningless.Please understand, this is not a criticism but an informative effort.I am trying to tell you that if you do not see a teudah, the stuffbeing sold may not be kosher, and no one is breaking the law. Thatmeans for example, a store selling nuts and dried fruit does not haveto concern himself with selling items that are not violation of manylaws pertaining to Eretz Yisrael, including shmitah, orla, trumot andother tithes for example. The store own needn’t be concerned if theraisins he sells are coated with kosher or non-kosher oil, as is thecase for “100% pure California seedless raisins”.

I am told the oil prevents them from sticking and adds a shine, as is the case with many apples by the way. He can sell whatever he wants and no one will be the wiser.One of the regular occurrences that irks me to no end is seeing the‘stumbling blocks’ that repeat themselves daily. Take the Eli Chaim Sweets store on Agrippas for example. They regularly open bars of chocolate and leave them out, broken pieces; realizing passers-by will often take a taste and decide to make a purchase. He is correct. I looked at the open bars on several occasions and I can testify that(1) they are often imported (2) do not necessarily have a hechsher (3)if they have a hechsher may not be chalav yisrael. These are just small examples. I frequently go inside and browse and find chocolatesf rom Germany and other European countries for example with liqueur fillings.

These are items that are likely to present all kinds ofkashrut problems, not to mention plain chocolate without a filling,which also requires a hechsher. He happens to carry a large assortment of traif stuff and if you go a number of stores over, you will findthe newly-remodeled wine store that has his share of traif wines too! Anyway, let’s begin shopping and see what we find. First of all, thereare still stores [as of this morning] with the expired Rabbanut hetermechira( teudot that ran out at the end ofDecember.

From my perspective, that means such a store does not haveany supervision. The news certificates are out on display so theseguys are not operating under supervision.Then there are the stores with signs “mehadrin” and “badatz”( ( bothmeaningless terms if not backed up by a teudah.

Take Maadanei Bina( for example, located at the Agrippas endof Eitz Chaim St, [that’s the closed street]. His sign says “koshermehadrin” but he does not have any teudah, not regular or mehadrin. Making things worse, the salesman is bearded, with long peyot (sidelocks) and always dressed in traditional ‘black and white’ chareidigarb. Also another deceptive reality is that one of the two show-cases carried Badatz Eida Chareidit salads, giving the impression it issuper kosher. The other showcase contains an array of take away foods,meat, chicken, salads and side dishes.

When I asked what the hechsher is, I was told “don’t worry, it’s all glatt, Beit Yosef, mehadrin”. After questioning why he doesn’t have any certificate if he is so “mehadrin”, he pulled out a somewhat dusty yet framed certificate of good old bogus Keter Kashrut. I cannot even say if it was current. I did not look too carefully. It appears thatRabbi Eliyahu Schlesinger’s crackdown on the bogus agency has prompted him to hide the certificate under the counter. He did not have one from the Jerusalem Rabbinate, and it appears, business continues toboom despite this, as I pointed out above.I also saw people bringing prepared foods in pots from elsewhere on anumber of occasions.

When I asked where the food was being cooked Iwas reassured again. In the meantime, who gives supervision to the place? I guess Sami Mizrachi, the guy who runs the bogus Keter Kashrutwho is now suing the Chief Rabbinate in the Supreme Court is the mansupervising the place!We enter Eitz Chaim Street walking towards Jaffa Street and on theleft we see the humus store (, whichdisplays a bogus expired hechsher [see the photo, inside on the wall,to the left of the soda refrigerator].

The hechsher is from NachlatYitzchak (a fake) and it expired in Elul, Rosh Hashanah time. Nocertification from the Jerusalem Rabbinate and even his fake teudah isexpired. Quite pathetic but he knows no one bothers to look at the date – usually willing to see a sign in Hebrew and then asking for amenu.Almost directly opposite is the Pilas Bakery( , selling burekas and cakes. He has a regular Jerusalem Rabbinate teudah, and shows a photocopied letterindicating the frozen cakes and burekas are under the supervision ofChatam Sofer.

This DOES NOT represent a supervision from Chatam Sofer.I see the frozen boxes come in at times, and from what I have seenthey are under the Chatam Sofer supervision, but you cannot reallyknow this from the photocopied letter since without a teudah, there isno mashgiach to make sure. That is what a reliable supervision isabout, doing the worrying for us. Anyway, the major problem here is that if someone brings you his bakedgoods, his red-colored plastic shopping bags say “mehadrin” Rav Landau(Bnei Brak) and Chatam Sofer (I have reported this to Rafi Yochai inthe Kashrut Fraud Division of the Chief Rabbinate (I have reportedthis to Rafi Yochai in the Kashrut Fraud Division of the ChiefRabbinate and was told he will take action and was told he will takeaction).

This would lead you to believe [rightfully so] that the storehas those supervisions, which it does not. He used to also have boxeswith an Eida Chareidit seal from another bakery, but at least thoseare gone for now.I can easily go on for pages but I cannot review each store, and theyfrequently change ownership so you, the shopper, must learn to seekout what is an acceptable kosher certificate. Yes, we may lament thefact that the Rabbinate is not ‘doing the job’ for a number ofreasons, but at the end of the day, we are responsible for what we putinto our bodies. I know parents who shop for children with differentfood allergies.

They never rely on the store but read ingredients. Whynot become accustomed to doing the same with kashrut teudot?Let’s looks at Birchat Yonatan’s store (,who sells Shamir salads, the sign reads “Mehadrin – Badatz”, onceagain, possibly a meaningless claim made by the store unless there arecurrent valid teudot inside attesting to the statement. The buzz words“badatz” stand for Beit din Tzedek. “Badatz” alone means ZERO . There are many legitimate badatz agencies and shoppers may select whatever works for them. Some examples would include Rabbanut mehadrin, Belz, Agudat Yisrael, Sheirit Yisrael, and Eida Chareidit.

Let’s now overlook Pitzuchei Shimshon [located between Eitz Chaim St.and Machane Yehuda St] (who paid extra money to have the words BADATZprinted in large bold fonts on his sign ( folks, he did not have any supervision when I was there, not theJerusalem Rabbinate or anyone else, just his large sign. Now, outside on the open street, Machane Yehuda Street, we find Boneh,who sells salads by the kilo and packaged; as well as olives, picklesand cold cuts. I buy here from time-to-time, but most of what he sells does not work for me.

The point however - look at his sign – the placehas an emblem of most major mehadrin supervisions ( does it mean, not a thing but I believe it is intended to deceiveshoppers, and it works. That does not mean his packaged Tzabarcontainers of humus are problematic, but it does not do much for manyof his other items. He does have a Rabbanut hechsher, and if the itemshe sells are ok, then enjoy but the point is why the display with allthe emblems of kashrut organizations? You tell me!Directly opposite is a similar store and his yellow sign with redlettering( assures you the olives are Rav Landau orBeit Yosef. Meaningless once again since the sign is his, not that ofa kashrut agency supervision. Who stands behind the statement?

No onethat represents a kashrut agency so perhaps his sign maker can assistyou, I honestly do not know. Pardon my cynical remark but I amgenuinely disgusted the painful situation, perhaps exacerbated by thelack of enforcement by the Rabbinate. Are you beginning to get the picture? There is a difference between alegitimate sign informing you that a kashrut agency is being paid toworry for you, or a store owner using deceptive practices inmisleading you into making a similar assumption while this is not thecase. Perhaps more insulting is the guy without any supervision ischarging you the same as a store with a supervision and a mashgiach,paying the extra money to do the right thing while the scam operatorsare pocketing the extra money since they are not even selling theirgoods any cheaper.

You are being ripped off as is your neshama!Not everyone with a yarmulke, black, knitted or any type necessarily knows enough of the laws to run a proper place. When there is a signattesting to a proper supervision, the mashgiach of that agency isresponsible to do all this checking for us. Perhaps we can look at ateudah as a spiritual license to operate a food business.I dare say that if you were highly allergic to nuts as many people are, you would never purchase a cake without first running some basicquestions by the salesperson, rightfully so I might add. G-d forbid,some people with serious allergies may suffer an anaphylactic reactionto the smallest quantity of nuts. That is no joke.Well let’s look at kashrus for a moment. Are you embarrassed to askquestions? If so why? If G-d forbid we eat something that is not whatwe believe it to be and it is something below our standard or worse,not kosher, isn’t that a type of spiritual anaphylactic reaction forour neshama? I am serious. It amazes me how we at times can go togreat lengths to protect our bodies while the neshama is dragged alongas an unwilling participant.

I will list a few more examples here with cross references to URLs tophotos to drive the point home. I reiterate here that I am neither arabbi nor a Torah scholar, just someone who is truly fed up seeingpeople being duped into eating things they would ordinarily not eat,with an emphasis on visitors from abroad, who in many cases have theadditional challenge of navigating the Hebrew signs. People work onthe assumption that store owners are all honest, all know theintricacies of kashrut, and would never deceive us. If this assumptionwas not so, we would all be looking for the teudot, perhaps exhibitingan increased vigilance regarding kashrut.

Take the new Aroma Café in the shuk at the corner of Machane YehudaStreet and Agrippas. It has a teudah from the Jerusalem Rabbanut,regular not mehadrin( See the photo – how well displayed theteudah is? More like a “Where’s Waldo” operation. What is the name ofthe store on the certificate, the date of expiration, anything. YouCANNOT SEE!I checked and learned exactly what it says but if you want to know, gothere and say “Can I see the teudah please?” I promise you they willpoint to the barely visible laminated document and then you must say,“I cannot see it. Please take it out”. If enough of us do that, theywill stop hiding it.A Few More Points:Chachmat Burekas of Haifa (, located onMachane Yehuda Street, the open street, near Aroma. If you ask mostpeople who eat there, they will tell you it is mehadrin. See theJerusalem Rabbinate teudah ( on the leftside, the yellow one, it is legitimate.

The letter on the right states that “sealed baked items are parve and dairy, under our mehadrinsupervision”. The photocopied letter is presumably from the factorywhere they but their frozen stuff but you don’t know that, and I toodo not. It also says the certificate, whatever place it applies to,only applies to sealed items in boxes and “does not apply to anyopened packages”. In short, a meaningless photocopy from Chatam SoferPetach Tikvah. NOT A KASHRUT HECSHER!Their bags, paper and plastic ( by the way,do say “mehadrin – Chatam Sofer” which in essence, they are not! Theyare Jerusalem Rabbinate regular, and if that is cool with you, fine,but realize, it is not mehadrin and that makes a big difference tosome.

Some other little points if you are wondering if the place isregular of mehadrin, what difference can this make. Well, the burekasand pastries, their ingredients regarding chalav Yisrael, siftingflour and on and on. There is also the milk used for coffee, mehadrinor regular. I asked and the mint (nana) leaves for tea are generallynot Gush Katif. Do you like bugs in your tea? I prefer not. Then thereis the matter of the charif and techina made in the place. Whatingredients, mehadrin, regular? Shmitah, heter mechira. The list islong and this is just one example of a place that does minimum cookingon the premises, all dairy and parve – we are not even dealing withmeat which is far more complicated.I cannot leave out my friend Jerusalem Steakhouse located at 101Agrippas Street. It appears to be owned by a nice French fellow, whofrequently is in the same mincha and maariv minyan with me. That isthe point, he davens, wears a kippa, but has a bogus hechsher. Hisplace advertises “mehadrin” ( but inactuality, has a regular Jerusalem Rabbinate teudah with a bogus onenext to it. That means he is regular kosher and no one ensuresanything mehadrin about the place.

This is a meat place, with manymany fresh salads, lots of bug inspections to do, lots of riceinspection, lots of making sure of the meat and so on and so forth. Ican only say I for one am pained that all the bogus signs write“mehadrin Beit Yosef meat”, which means nothing from them and perhapscompromises the true hechsher of the Badatz Beit Yosef, under thesupervision of Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita, one of the leading Torahgiants of the generation.Here are some of the legitimate signs you may see in the shuk,hopefully to assist you to become familiar with them and thereby,making you a bit keener and sharper to the fakes.Rav Machpud Shlita – Mehadrin Yoreh Deah. This one is from a storeselling nuts and dried fruits. ( – Badatz Machzikei Hadas mehadrin from the Belzer Rebbe Shlita –from a Levy Shwarma on Agrippas, opposite Jerusalem Shwarma. ( Chief Rabbinate regular kosher for fruit stands followingshmitah( Yisrael for a fruit stand – ( Noticethe mashgiach comes in daily, and changes the date to keep it current,informing us, the consumer that he has taken trumot and ma’asrot.

There are also Badatz Sheirit Yisrael (from Bnei Brak) ( and Badatz Eida Chareidit of Jerusalem ( , in this case, with the Eida store, showing hissign, which is only valid because of the kashrut certificate to itsright.And now my dear friends, one of my favorites, a place that hasabsolutely NO KOSHER SUPERVISION whatsoever but if you know someonewho goes there, they will tell you he is “Eida Chareidit” or “BeitYosef”. The meaningless photocopy of a Beit Yosef is gone for now, butthe Eida Chareidit one remains. This guy makes me sick—always changinghis scam but never paying for a Jerusalem Rabbinate or otherhechsher.Nisan’s Café, located at 119 Jaffe Street, between Machane Yehuda andEitz Chaim St. by the shuk ( .

Look at his handy work, the latest attempt to deceive you, the kosher consumer,into believing he is under the supervision of the Badatz EidaChareidit( sign reads as follows.“Chazara Teva products are certified mehadrin only if the Badatz EidaChareidit symbol appears on the closed boxes. They were checked andapproved by our rabbis for use during the year, not Pessach. One mustinspect the product prior to use to make certain there are no bugs.This certificate is valid until Elul 5769.”

What is wrong?
1. It is a photocopy and therefore meaningless.
2. What does the ‘Chazara Teva’ company have to do with Nisan’s Café?
3. Even if he sells their stuff, it refers ONLY to closed packages,not the endless assortment of dried leaves and teas he sells byweight, not in closed packages.
4. How good is you eye? Enlarge the photo and take a look at the fonton the line showing the expiration date. The Elul “5769” is adifferent font. Quite honestly, I am not that sharp but a few weeksago, I took a photo, which I since lost so I cannot show you forcomparison but my wife, Sharon, was with me and she was shocked when Ishowed her the bogus letter was not even current, expiring two yearsago. They since changed the date to make it good for an additional fewmonths, but the fonts of the letters of the Hebrew year do not evenmatch the rest of the words in the line.You may now ask, “So what’s wrong with a cup of coffee here?”

There can be a lot wrong but for me, enough that the guy first of all has nokosher certification, so how can I drink anything here? In addition,he is trying to pull the rug out from under your feet by trying to getyou to believe he is super kosher. This guy is out big time. Thephotocopied letter used to say Beit Yosef but that one is gone now.There are stores in the shuk that have non-Jews operating them,perhaps owners too, I do not know, lacking any kosher supervision andJews are buying there, thinking they are eating kosher.For me, this report is a major downer. The “shuk” has become a trapfor the well-intended kosher consumer. It really is a maze and one
must remain vigilant, always checking signs with each purchase. Thereis no easy way here.Please, do not misinterpret this report. Eat whatever level of kosherthat works for you but shop and eat as an informed kosher consumer. Donot let stores dupe you into something or mislead you into believingthey are kosher certified when they are not -- or mehadrin when theyare not. You are paying prices for kosher and mehadrin, and should notsettle for anything less. Start making noise and start buying at thelegitimate stores.

Perhaps the others will catch on.Let’s try to end on a positive note!Enjoy Tu B’Shvat and try to get something to make a bracha on fromEretz Yisrael. The day is about a realization of the abundance ofmarvelous things that all come from Our Creator, a recognition of thewonderful bounty we enjoy in this world, but how much more significantwhen we make that bracha on something grown in Eretz Yisrael, inadherence to Jewish Law.Shavua tov from Jerusalem,Respectfully,Yechiel SpiraJerusalem
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Vaad Hakashrus hereby notifies the community that we have terminated our kashruth supervision of Gourmet Glatt. This action was effective as of 4:00 pm on Friday, October 27th, 2006. A unanimous decision was made after the review and confirmation of serious halachic and contractual violations over time. The Vaad had attempted, on numerous occasions, to persuade Gourmet Glatt to rectify these situations but violations continued to occur. The Vaad bears the responsibility of maintaining the highest standard of kashruth. Our Vaad has achieved a reputable standing for its kashruth standards, integrity and reliability. To allow any lowering of these standards would be an abrogation of rabbinic duties and responsibilities.

It should be self evident that such a decision was not taken lightly. We recognize the effect upon the livelihoods of many people but as a Vaad Hakashruth we are primarily charged with the stewardship and maintenance of the highest standards of communal kashruth. After exploring many alternative avenues and solutions over an extended period of time, the Vaad has reluctantly taken the final step of removing its supervision and imprimatur.

Gourmet Glatt's acquisition of a second Hashgacha, in addition to being a violation of its contract and policies with the Vaad, is an affront to the unity of our community. When there is one universally recognized and accepted Hashgacha in a community, the kashruth standards are clear to all. When one local store takes on multiple hashgachot on their premises, then there is a threat to the uniform standards we have all worked so hard to achieve.

We hope and pray to Hashem that we will all come together as one for the sake of Heaven and for the sake of our wonderful community.