Religion Magazine

Kosher BaGaTZ Vs Kosher BaDaTZ

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
A couple of years ago there was a dispute in Kiryat Gat when the rav of the city, Rav Havlin, refused to grant mehadrin kashrut certification to a caterer because of Ethiopian employees (cooks) that the rav said needed to have their Judaism authenticated.
The caterer has petitioned the Supreme Court over the matter, and the Supreme Court has now ordered Rav Havlin and the Religious Council of Kiryat Gat to explain why they are refusing to grant the kashrut mehadrin certification to this catering company. The Rabbanut, led by Rav Havlin, has denied it being racism, but have also not supplied an alternative explanation. Because of the initial dispute, Rav Havlin at some point stopped granting any mehadrin certification in all of Kiryat Gat, but this catering company wants mehadrin certification, and also wants the Rabbanut to delineate a clear set of rules and guidelines one must follow to qualify for mehadrin certification.
So the Court is ordering the Rabbanut and Rabbanut Kiryat Gat to both explain why they stopped giving mehadrin at all in Kiryat Gat and to explain what the guidelines to qualify for mehadrin are and then to explain why they wont grant this caterer mehadrin certification or re-evaluate the situation.
Interestingly the rav's lawyer pointed out that there is no legal construct of mehadrin kashrut, so he cannot be sued or forced to grant it. In addition, he said, any institution granted kashrut only because of the Supreme Court will be kosher with the kashrut of the Bagatz btu not Kosher of the Badatz. Cute line.sources: INN and Srugim
While there might not be a legal construct called kosher mehadrin, if the Rabbanut decides to provide such a service they are not allowed to discriminate. They have to have a good reason to not give it to one person when giving it to another. I don't know that this caterer or any other should be given by force a mehadrin certification, but there should be clear guidelines for qualification and they should be known and transparent. They shouldn't be able to decide on a whim, every day changing the criteria. Set a list of rules and guidelines, and anyone who follows them and qualifies should get the mehadrin status.
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