Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), his deputy MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) and Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau on Monday presented a reform in the kashrut system and in the labeling of kosher food.
The new system, first reported by Israel Hayom, is designed to increase transparency and uniformity in kosher labeling.
Among the planned changes is the introduction of a definitive three-tier kosher rating scheme. Businesses selling kosher food products will label their food with Stars of David. One star will represent the most basic level of kashrut, two stars will represent the stricter mehadrin level and three stars will represent the highest standard, known as mehadrin min hamehadrin.
The labeling is meant to push out the private rabbinical designations of kashrut, which promise stricter levels of observation, and to return authority to the rabbinate.
Another major change is in the way kashrut supervisors are paid. Currently, business owners pay the supervisors directly. They determine the fee between them, and there is no regulating body to oversee the supervisors. According to the Religious Services Ministry, this system leads to a lack of motivation on the part of supervisors to visit businesses and regulate them, and creates inconsistencies in standards and requirements between cities and between rabbis.
The Religious Services Ministry plans to regulate the relationship between supervisors and businesses by creating a company dedicated to employing kashrut supervisors, which will pay them and eliminate the employer-employee relationship they now have with business owners.
There are also plans underway to create online databases accessible to the public that give information about kosher standards in various businesses. Kosher standards will also be enforced with the addition of more inspectors.
"With [these changes], we will see an impact on the prices of food products, which we will be able to better see as time passes," said Bennett.
"The ultimate purpose of this revolution in kashrut is to renew the public's trust in the rabbinate's kashrut [standards] by way of full transparency, regulating proper working relationships, eliminating extraneous considerations, a technological upgrade of the system, and determining fixed kashrut standards," said Ben-Dahan. "Another thing we are working toward is integrating women in various fields of religious services, including working as kashrut supervisors."