Kashrut made political – editorial

The US-based kosher certification agency Kof-K is seriously considering not renewing Ben & Jerry’s kashrut certificate if the global ice cream company follows through on its plan to boycott West Bank settlements.

“We have told Ben & Jerry’s that we do not know if we will be able to renew our contract,” said Rabbi Daniel Senter, COO of Kof-K which provides international kosher certification. The Jerusalem PostTovah Lazaroff on Thursday.

Senter went on to explain that the kashrut company cannot remove the existing certification as the ice cream company has not done anything with the ice cream production that requires such a move. What you are considering is not renewing the certification once the current contract ends next year.

Why? Due to Ben & Jerry’s terrible decision to stop selling their ice cream in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Parent company Unilever announced earlier this year that it will not renew the production license it has been granting to an Israeli manufacturer for decades.

We have written in the past about the Ben & Jerry decision, which is silly and stinks of double standards. The Vermont-based brand’s decision was upsetting because it was full of hypocrisy. This move was intended to indicate that the ice cream company cares about human rights, but when an Axios reporter asked Ben Cohen, one of the co-founders, why the company was not boycotting other troubled states, he simply shrugged off. shoulders and said was an interesting question. This is not a person who cares about human rights. This is a person who cares to point to Israel.

KASHRUT CERTIFICATION in a Jerusalem restaurant (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Senter explained that 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 best interest of the Kof-K, in this case, “reflects what is best for Israel and the Jewish community.”

However, we do not agree with Kof-K’s decision not to renew the ice cream maker’s kosher certification. This also implies a potential double standard that will undermine the kashrut industry by involving it in politics in opposition to food standards.

Where would you draw the Kof-K line? If it stops working with Ben & Jerry’s, what happens when another food manufacturer does something unethical? Take, for example, a company whose management misappropriates money and strips its workers of their pensions. That is one way of stealing, one of the Ten Commandments. Would Kof-K stop working with that company?

And what about a company that pollutes the environment? Would Kof-K stop certifying its products kosher?

This is a slippery slope that will likely cause more harm than good to the food and kashrut industry.

We agree with Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who heads the Ethics Center of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization in Israel, who said that while he opposes the boycott of Ben & Jerry’s, he is also against seeing the issuance of a kashrut certificate from any other lens. than the legal requirement under Jewish law.

“Once you start de-certifying kashrut for different reasons, you don’t know where you’ll stop,” Cherlow told Lazaroff. “In principle, there is nothing that has no limits. Maybe boycotting Israel is crossing that line. “

Kashrut should remain a problem with clear guidelines and rules to stay away and out of politics. There are other ways to fight boycotts that do not involve politicizing something like kashrut certification which does not have to be a political issue.

This is in no way intended to protect Ben & Jerry’s, whose actions are not only damaging to the advancement of peace and stability (BDS emboldens extremists), but also an illustration of hypocrisy that the company sadly misses. has refused to rectify.

Of course, companies can decide with whom they want to do business. This includes places of business like Kof-K. But kashrut as a religious service should remain apolitical. Making it a political tool will not benefit religion. It will only damage it.


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