US rabbi says women cannot issue kosher certificates

US rabbi says women cannot issue kosher certificates April 16, 2018

A female member of a Washington DC Modern Orthodox congregation – Maharat Ruth Friedman – has been handing out certificates, along with Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld – to a growing number of kosher restaurants in the District, and in doing so has profoundly annoyed Rabbi Yosef Wikler, above.
Wikler, publisher of the monthly Kashrus Magazine, which covers kosher food and cooking practices, objects to Friedman being in charge of kosher certification.
According to this report, unless she steps down, Wikler plans to remove Herzfeld and Friedman’s local rabbinic organisation, the Beltway Vaad, from his annual list of kosher-certifying agencies.
He thundered:

A kashrus agency has to abide by traditional Orthodox procedures. In the Orthodox world, until today, the only people who certify traditional kosher certification are men rabbis ordained as rabbis, and no one else.
Being in charge of a kosher organization, you have to make Jewish legal decisions which only a rabbi is entitled to make.

The clergy at Ohev Shalom-The National Synagogue have given kosher certification to three vegan restaurants in the District (along with two others in the suburbs).
Herzfeld said:

We have never seen such a positive response to anything we’ve done in our life. People are clamoring for more opportunities and ways to eat kosher. Basically, the job of the religious leaders of synagogues is to help our congregants keep Jewish law, so we felt this is something we could do for the community.

Maharat Ruth Friedman with the manager of Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar, a vegan restaurant she and Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld recently certified kosher. (Courtesy of Friedman)
For more than a decade, DC had only one kosher restaurant. Eli’s, a meat deli that opened in 2003, shut its doors a decade later. The same owner opened Char Bar, also with a meat-centric menu, at the beginning of the following year.
But now, the number of kosher restaurants in the District has tripled.
This is Friedman’s first time heading a kosher certification operation. Beyond the expanded kosher options, she appreciates the new offerings as a longtime vegetarian.
Said Friedman, who was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy:

I think it’s a really interesting process. I’ve been a vegetarian for 23 years, and it’s very important to me personally that were making food that is healthy and that doesn’t mistreat animals more available to me.

Vegan restaurants are a natural fit for kosher certification because they don’t serve – and therefore don’t mix – meat and dairy products. They also do not serve non-kosher dishes like pork and shellfish, or meat and chicken that wasn’t slaughtered under kosher supervision.
But Herzfeld said there are still plenty of ways for a vegan restaurant not to be kosher. One called Evolve had to change its wine menu to only serve kosher-certified wines. Some vegan restaurants also use unkosher varieties of wine or vinegar while cooking.
Jewish law also prohibits some foods cooked by a non-Jew – a restriction restaurants can circumvent, for example, by having a Jewish person light the pilot light on a stove.
Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Chief Operating Officier of the kosher certification department at the Orthodox Union, the largest kosher certifier in the country, said there’s no problem with a woman running a kosher certification operation.

The one that takes care of the kashrut in the kitchen is my wife as well

Elefant added that he questioned the sustainability of using volunteer, unpaid kosher supervisors – which Friedman and Herzfeld are doing – but stressed that he was not commenting on the kosher certification itself.
Friedman and her colleagues have already had to contend with challenges to their qualifications: The Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America, two large umbrella Orthodox groups, both issued bans on Orthodox women clergy in recent years. But she doesn’t focus on the criticism.
She and Herzfeld both emphasized that they are doing this as a service to their congregants and local community. If someone doesn’t want to eat at the restaurants, they said, they don’t have to.

These are not the types of things that bother me. Ultimately, folks are going to choose whether they want to rely on it.

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  • Vanity Unfair

    Jewish law also prohibits some foods cooked by a non-Jew – a restriction restaurants can circumvent, for example, by having a Jewish person light the pilot light on a stove.
    Yes, I can see that. Lighting the pilot light negates all the preparation and handling, the formulation and experimentation and the cook’s internal dialogue. I just wonder who makes sure that the gas and electricity are kosher.

  • Italian Scallion

    Jewish law my ass. Screw Jewish law.

  • Pocomouse

    It’s amusing how hard many Jews work to circumvent the laws of their own religion. The draconian rules around eating Kosher and working on the Sabbath are so antiquated and intolerable I’m astonished anyone still subscribes to them.

  • Pagan Pete

    @Pocomouse: I’m astonished that their sky fairy is so dense and witless as to be completely bamboozled by all these contortions, I mean it invented these draconian restrictions in the first place and they’ve spent centuries inventing ways of getting around them, yet nobody ever gets smited. Either it hasn’t noticed yet, or, maybe perhaps it doesn’t exist?

  • RussellW

    Usually religion represents oppression, occasionally it provides a laugh. At least these demented clowns are not trying to impose their lunacy on infidels.

  • 1859

    Too many gods spoil the broth = too many gods spoil the mind = keep gods out of the kitchen = keep gods out of your mind.

  • 1859

    Oh I forgot, women are clearly unfit to certify anything – I mean when they hand over the kosher certificates they may be menstruating, so all that uncleanliness will render the certificates invalid. I can see the reasoning in this. It’s such good common sense. That’s why you can’t sit next to females on planes or trains or buses or in taxis – they are walking contaminants, they might smell, they might leak between the legs and their menstrual blood might just jump down your throat and kill you stone dead. Then god certainly wouldn’t allow you to sit at his table and you would be banished from heaven for ever. All good common sense to me.

  • Daz

    Yep, it takes a real, honest-to-goodness manly man to decide whether meat is from an animal which has been killed in a cruel enough fashion to satisfy the sadistic tastes of a manly man’s god.

  • Robster

    Says bloke, too batshit silly to use a shaver.

  • Great Satan

    Whether or not Kosher food certificated can be issued by women is the least of the problem, the certification process, as with halal food, is used as a shakedown for Jewish religious organisations – but luckily some people are using a kosher app to avoid kosher food ! ;
    You don’t want you’re hard earned cash to be used for fighting other people’s wars do you ? ;

  • Maggie

    Wire hanging not keeping him busy enough?

  • barriejohn

    He’s absolutely right. According to both Old and New Testaments, women are to be subservient to men. I am not aware of a big voice booming down at us from heaven, saying: “Hold on there – I’ve changed my mind about that!”

  • andym

    So Friedman supports the absurd, cruel, discriminatory, unnecessary practice of Kosher right up until the point it started to discriminate against her?I’ve limited sympathy.

  • L.Long

    The fundy dimwitted jews are the perfect example of how ST00PID!!! these people think their omni-gawd is!!! They think their gawd is so st00pid that turning on a pilot light means they cooked the meal, that a piece of string around a block defines their house! And yet THEY are so st00pid that turn on a solid state light switch is the same as making a fire!!!! They make other religions look intelligent by comparison!!!