Ben & Jerry’s May Lose American Kashrut Renewal Due To Settler Boycott

The Kof-K cannot renew Ben & Jerry’s Kashrut’s certificate if the global ice cream company follows through on its plan to boycott settlements in the West Bank.

“We have told Ben and Jerry’s that we don’t know if we will be able to renew our contract,” Rabbi Daniel Senter said.

He is the COO of Kof-K, based in the United States, which provides international Kosher certification, including in the US.

What’s at stake is the question of whether Ben & Jerry’s in the US will continue to receive kosher certification once Kof-K’s contract with the Vermont-based ice cream company ends in 2022.

The Kof-K can only break this contract if there is a violation of Jewish dietary laws and no such violation has occurred, Senter explained.

“The company is fulfilling its end of the contract,” Senter said.

The Kof-K, however, is considering refusing to renew the contract due to the decision made in July by Ben & Jerry’s independent board not to renew its business agreements with the Israeli ice cream franchise once the contract. ends in December 2022. In a statement on the matter, Ben & Jerry’s board said it had taken this step due to sales of the Israeli franchise to Jewish stores in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements.

The Ben & Jerry’s factory itself is located in southern Israel and does not have a factory in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

“Our concern is Ben & Jerry’s [pending] action to withdraw product distribution in Judea and Samaria, “Senter said.

He explained that he would like Ben & Jerry’s to reverse their decision.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who founded Ben & Jerry’s in 1978, discussed the company’s decision to stop selling ice cream in the West Bank in an interview with Axios published on Sunday. (credit: SCREENSHOT VIA JTA)

“We are hopeful that Ben & Jerry’s will reverse their decision and that there will be some kind of resolution,” said Senter.

The Kof-K has spoken to Ben & Jerry’s about its concerns, Senter said. He stressed that there are a number of steps the Kof-K would have to take before any final action on the matter, including a decision by its rabbinical board. He would also consult with other regulatory companies that certify kosher food, Senter said.

As part of their deliberations, both he and his brother Ari, who is Kof-K’s chief rabbinical coordinator, were in Israel last week, on a trip that was organized by the executive director of the Yesha Council, Yigal Dilmoni.

They met with the Minister of Religious Affairs, Matan Kahana, about Ben & Jerry’s and traveled to Judea and Samaria, where they spoke with Dilmoni and Avi Zimmerman, who is president of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce.

The two brothers also visited the Barkan industrial park, where both Israelis and Palestinians work. They spoke with employees there to see first-hand the companies that are affected by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.

Dilmoni said he had been in contact with the Kof-K to “exhaust all possibilities to stop Ben & Jerry’s shameful decision to boycott Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

“The brothers are very connected to the land of Israel and are also strongly opposed to the boycotts of the Judea and Samaria area. We present to you the fact that the boycott decision is an anti-Jewish decision,” Dilmoni said.

Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company Unilever have tried to downplay the decision, which many have interrupted as a boycott of Israel.

Both companies have said they would open another Israeli Ben & Jerry’s franchise that would comply with the restriction to limit sales within pre-1967 lines, but to date, no announcement has been made regarding an alternative.

The decision to end Ben & Jerry’s deal with Israel was made by Ben & Jerry’s independent board, which controls the company’s social mission and has made clear that it intends to boycott Israel over the issue of settlements.

Senter said his company also feels it has a social mission, but in this case it is Jewish.

“Our entire business is the Jewish community,” Senter said. The Kof-K’s best interest, in this case, “reflects what is best for Israel and the Jewish community,” he said.

But the question of whether to strip a company of its kosher certification for reasons other than whether its food meets that standard is part of a larger debate over whether social, political and moral issues should be considered.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who heads the Ethics Center for the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization in Israel, said he opposes the Ben & Jerry’s boycott and understands the emotions that have swirled around him.

But at the same time, Cherlow said, he is also against looking at the issuance of a Kashrut certificate from any lens other than the legal requirement under Jewish law.

Otherwise, he said, “it is a slippery slope” that opens the door to many questions.

One might wonder if the kashrut certificate should be removed from an event hall that has hosted a secular New Years event on December 31st.

Or should a meat plant that mistreat animals be considered kosher, he asked. What about a supermarket or restaurant that mistreats its employees? He continued.

“Once you start de-certifying kashrut for different reasons, you don’t know where it will stop,” Cherlow said.

“In principle, there is nothing that has no limits. Perhaps to boycott Israel is to cross that line,” he said.

However, it would be better to separate kosher food certification from those debates and use other means to stop the Ben & Jerry’s boycott.

Otherwise, “you’re not going where you’ll have to stop,” Cherlow said.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *