The Chief Rabbinate on Thursday removed its objection to the establishment of a national authority operating kosher supervisors, instead of the supervisors currently employed by the local rabbinates.
A bill on the matter is slated to be brought before the Ministerial Committee at the beginning of the winter session, and is meant to prevent financial irregularities, nepotism and inadequate supervision – as revealed by a State Comptroller Report.
According to the bill, the new authority will be subordinate to the Ministry of Religious Services headed by Minister Yacov Margi, and will operate three manpower agencies selected through a tender.
If the bill eventually passes, its main advantage will be the ability to hire kosher supervisors that are not obligated to the businesses or factories they supervise, which will help regulate the koshering system in Israel.
However, the initiative also has a downside – factories, companies and businesses applying for kosher certificates will be probably asked to pay a higher fee for external supervision services operated by private manpower agencies.
The initiators of the law claimed that the additional cost will be set off by the illegal payments given to kosher supervisors in order to overlook irregularities and skip visits.
The bill was drafted, among other reasons, following the harsh findings revealed in the 2008 State Comptroller Report, which found severe financial irregularities in several religious municipalities across the country.
One of the cases revealed a city rabbi who received some NIS 1.5 million from several business owners, which he then distributed to supervisors he appointed himself.
In another incident mentioned in the report, a religious municipality employed 23 family members in its koshering apparatus, and in certain cases family members would supervise their own relatives or even themselves.
The bill will be submitted by MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), who headed the Knesset State Control Subcommittee that dealt with the report, and is currently supported by 25 members of Knesset from across the political spectrum.
Schneller was optimistic over the bill's chance to pass, saying, "After the long process we went through, I am assuming the bill would pass, despite a possible objection from the Ministry of Finance.
"This will constitute a true revolution in Israel's koshering services, which will be implemented in the foreseeable future," he said.
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