A Messianic Jew who owns two bakery shops recently petitioned the Supreme Court against the Chief Rabbinate and two local rabbinates, which she claimed revoked her businesses' kashrut certificates because of her religious beliefs.
The petitioner, Pnina Konforti, runs two bakery shops - one in Ashdod and the other one in the neighboring community of Gan Yavne. In 2001 she opened the first shop in Gan Yavne. Shortly after the store was opened, local residents started harassing her and blaming her of conducting missionary activity at the store. At some point the local chief rabbi revoked her kashrut certificate due to these allegations.
In 2006 she opened her second bakery shop in Ashdod. Initially she was granted a kashrut certificate, but when the Ashdod Rabbinate learned that she was a Messianic Jew, it also cancelled the permit.
Only Jews can be kosher?
Konforti appealed the decision with the Rabbinate, and was consequently invited for a hearing in which she was told that her kashrut certificate would be returned only if she agrees to employ a full-time kashrut supervisor who will be present at the store at all times and who will get the keys to the business.
Konforti refused and petitioned the Supreme Court instead. In her appeal she claimed that her religious belief could not be used as a valid reason to revoke her kashrut certificate. Meanwhile, the Rabbinate argued that since Konforti was an apostate, she cannot be considered trustworthy according to Jewish law.
The Supreme Court granted Konforti's appeal and ordered the Rabbinate to pay her NIS 200,000 in legal fees. The judges wrote in their ruling that: "The Rabbinate's conduct indicates that as far as it is concerned only Jews can receive this much coveted kashrut certificate." They also ordered the Rabbinate to issue Konforti a certificate as long as she adheres to the usual requirements.