A bill that would allow for limited kosher certification for restaurants even if they are open on the Sabbath advanced in Israel last week.
The bill won the support of the ruling coalition, though it still needs the support of the Knesset. It has already been criticized by both the left and the right.
The current law prohibits kosher authorities from considering anything but the condition of the food and the laws of kashrut, which do not include the wider prohibitions against working on the Sabbath. However, in practice, the kosher authorities have denied licenses to restaurants that remain open on Shabbat. This forces many restaurants to choose between two costly options: giving up their certification, or closing on Friday nights and Saturdays.
In Israel, only the Chief Rabbinate may offer kosher certification. Many restaurateurs complain that the organization is unreasonable; some have resorted to forgoing their kosher certification, but advertising their restaurants as “kosher” in protest.
The proposed law does contain many concessions to the Sabbath, such as saying that the restaurants would only be kosher “certified” during the week, and that different dishes and utensils would need to be used on Saturday.
“The bill, based on rulings by important religious Zionist rabbis, will enable many more restaurants to be kosher, thereby presenting a Judaism that unites rather than rejects,” said MK Elazar Stern (Hatnuah), who sponsored the bill, according to Haaretz.
But in the Jerusalem Post, haredi MK Yisrael Eichler of United Torah Judaism called it “part of the war to turn the state into a Reform ghetto.”
Meanwhile, left-wing MK Merav Michaeli said the opposite, criticizing the bill for adding to the “religious legislation in state laws.”