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The kosher labelling submission – now available for your perusal

May 25, 2010 – 1:23 pm21 Comments

ReportBy Rachel Sacks-Davis

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and the Organisation of Rabbis Australasia (ORA) have made their submission available on the ECAJ website.

For those who do not want to read the entire document, the report in the AJN (20/5/2010) was accurate, and the submission proposes that ORA be given legal rights to define which foods can be labelled, ‘kosher.’ If ORA are not to be given these rights, ECAJ and ORA prefer that the status quo be maintained and that ‘kosher’ is not given any legal definition.

The submission does not say how ORA will decide which kashrut certificates will be approved.

Criticism of the submission can be found on Galus Australis, the Sensible Jew, and AJN watch.

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  • Seen the submission says:

    Rachel has (purposely?) reversed the order of preference contained in the submission.  Don’t take the easy (lazy)  way out and  take Rachel’s word for it.  Read the submission yourself and you will see that the preferred position is actually to keep the status quo – namely what is called in the submission “self regulation”.  It is only if the government  doesn’t  maintain that status quo that a regulatory body is suggested.

    At least Rachel has now admitted that the  submission was made by the ECAJ and ORA.  It is quite clear that it is not a self-promotion by Kosher Australia or any of the other existing kosher agencies as she originally trumpeted.  Be interesting to see if she now modifies that  initial attack on Kosher Australia.  Don’t hold your breath. though!       

  • frosh says:

    Seen the Submission,

    Your powers of English language comprehension have to be called into question.

    The document is exactly as RachSD has described. 

    Grab a schmutter, and wipe the egg from your undisclosed face.

  • Seen the submission says:

    Typical reaction from you frosh. Playing the man and the identity issue while not providing one shred of support for your statements.

    I’m quite happy leavuing it to the average reader of these posts to read the submission and determine who needs to wipe the egg from their face….

  • frosh says:

    Point 22 in the submission is classic

    “The Jewish community would support such an outcome”

    What survey did they conduct to come to this conclusion? :-)

  • Frosh,

    Actually, the crux of it is clause 21, which says ORA are the arbiters of what is a “recognized rabbinic or kosher authority”.

    Clause 22 is more of interest to those who regularly challenge the status of ECAJ as being representatives of the Jewish community.

  • Seen the submission says:


    Who else should be the arbiters of what is a recognised Kosher authority if not the rabbinic establishment – someone like frosh perhaps?  :-) 

  • StS,

    While such a role may not belong with a layperson, leaving it with ORA can give rise to many problems:

    What happens if/when ORA doesn’t like a new kid on the block like KVY? How kosher (and there are many shares of grey in kosher certfication) does an authority have to be to be accepted by them? How do they deal with any conflict of interest, where Rabbis on ORA are closely linked to existing (and therefore competitive) kashrut authorities?

    I’m not suggesting that lay-people would do this job better, rather that the whole notion of anybody (rabbinic/religious or otherwise) being the arbiter of what’s kosher enough to be called kosher is a very dangerous one. It’s miyu yehudi (who is a Jew?) all over again, but for food.

  • frosh says:

    Hi David,

    Yes I know Cl. 21 is the crux, but Cl. 22 is what really made me laugh.

    Anyway, always nice to have correspondence from someone courageous enough to put their name to their opinion.

  • Seen the submission says:


    If people are afraid to put their name to their opinion it is posters like you who must take the blame.  You appear to have been appointed as the site’s bouncer – ready to break the knee-caps of whoever you perceive to be presenting a logical argument against the editorial posts (“playing the man” as I have commented before).  As the Oracle ponted out  on the other thread discussing theis issue – perhaps if the discussion remained civil (as indeed Rachel’s has been)  people would not be intimidated into hiding behind a nickname.  But until then I would consider it simply suicidal to bow to your goading regarding revealing the name of  anyone other than those supportive of the site’s agenda.

  • Seen the submission says:


    The ECAJ and ORA have come up with their sugestion as to who the arbiter should be.  I don’t actually see any suggestion being accepted by everyone and at this time and  I must agree with them that the rabbinic establishment appears to me to be the best alternative despite the problems that may arise in the scenario you present. 

    But don’t just negatively criticise that suggestion  – come up with a workable and competent alternative if you have one.  I am sure there are enough people who would support a better and more transparent alternative if it was proposed.  The Beth Din was reformed virtually without opposition when a logical and competent alternative was sugested.  No real reason why this type of attitude can’t prevail here if presented logically,  rationally and constructively.

  • Orthodox but not impressed says:

    One should not only  read the submission verbatim , but also
    the subtext.
    Lets look at some of the points and see what is really going on here.
    1. ‘elected representative organisation of the Jewish community” This has already been discussed ad infinitum both here and elsewhere. needless to say they do not represent the community. only those members of those organisations that form part of the EJAC and ORA. Hardly representative, but certainly vocal.
    11 12 13 14
    The use of the word “primarily” clearly indicates the subsequent authorities as the preferred if not the only authorities to the exclusion of any others.
    This is reinforced in 12 “…. come to rely upon the cert provided by the relevant (only those mentioned earlier) Aust Jewish Authorties….”
    also reinforced in 13 by indication of published lists and logo. Only the Primary authorities have these
    and 14 “appropriate and authorised”
    “these authorities work co-opertatively to investigate and certify….” Only as long as you don’t encroach on the individual authorities territory esp in the area of catering…sorry that’s only kosher on the other side of the border.!!!.To me that statement is a blatant misrepresentation
    the proposal suggests that only ORA can provide a kashrut endorsement. Ora is is dominated and highly influenced by ultra orthodoxy and therefore has its own religious agenda.
    22 ” the Jewish community would support such an outcome” based on what referendum? I did not see a public community request to provide input to this submission. Did you?
    On the face of it this submission reads as a genuine attempt to provide a better product to kosher consumers. However, read between the lines and it’s a “soft in” to centralising and conferring the power to determine who controls the kosher industry.
    I repeat from my other post in “No competition please, we’re the Kashrut Authority”
    Those that can control the process,distribution and certification, not only stand to profit but also ultimately promote a particular religious position and make it the dominant and thereby the ‘authentic” version.
    The desire of hegemony of one religious viewpoint in order to influence the many secular, mainstream Jews who have little knowledge of the religious, albeit often competing,religious diversity within our communities stands only to stamp themselves as the “only” authority on all things “authenticaly” Jewish.

  • eye says:

    Re the reported new Sydney hechsher of rabbi Silberberg reported  on Ajnwatch (here:) http://tinyurl.com/26sl2cy – see the comments.

    David’s words: “What happens if/when ORA doesn’t like a new kid on the block like KVY? How kosher (and there are many shares of grey in kosher certfication) does an authority have to be to be accepted by them? How do they deal with any conflict of interest, where Rabbis on ORA are closely linked to existing (and therefore competitive) kashrut authorities?” come into play here.

    Presumably Rabbi Moshe Gutnick will have a strong say in ORA’s kashrut affairs. Can we really expect him to approve a competitor?

    Is there anyone here from Sydney who has more info on this new hechsher?

  • cindy from sydney says:

    Yes there are a number of rumors going around here about pressure of rabbi Silberberg to desist. I for one, sure hope that he is strong enough to withstand the pressure of KA.

    Monopolies are BAD BAD BAD and cost us money

  • The oracle says:

    My two cents here:

    If a Board were to be constituted to issue licneses to kashrut authorities-it stands to reason that ORA and ECAJ and indeed lay orthodox bodies are involved.

     However, the critical issue to focus upon is who is actually appointed to such a Board. In thsi regard, one would expect that safeguards are put in place to ensure that the appointees are both rabbis and lay people of good standing within the Orthodox community and are totally independent of any relationship to any existing kashrut authority or indeed if they are now- they would need to totally remove themselves from any active participation with kashrut.

  • Teller of Truth says:

    They have these types of laws already in America, and it works well. This keeps the standard of kashrus so that not just any shalmiel can come along and call something kosher when it is not. It helps to prevent fraud and also makes an  important distinction between what is truly kosher and not merely ‘kosher style’, the latter really being treife.  And it is not Kosher Australia that is pushing for this, ORA is. This will protect the kosher consumer. This has nothing to do with creating a monopoly or with KA wanting power or all such paranoid hysterical nonsense.  Just look at America which has these laws in place and there are literally hundreds of kosher organisations and one can not make the argument that any one kashrus organisations has a monoply, not even the OU. It is actually absurd to say that these laws have stifled competition in America and they will not do so here either.

  • Eli says:

    Teller you may be interested in this article then Georgia removes kosher labeling law
    Here is a brief snippet

    The state should never be in the position of deciding which religious beliefs are ‘legitimate’ and which are not,” said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia.


  • rachsd says:

    People who are opposed to the proposal can join together to voice their concerns by signing this petition.

  • Eli says:

    The most important point with all the legislation in the U.S is that it requires that labeling adhere to the legislation. No where in those laws does it site a specific authority orthodox or otherwise to be the final arbiter of whose kashrut hechsher is “kosher” so to speak.
    It this point that differentiates the US laws and the submission by ORA. Not an insignificant one!!
    View copy of the Georgia legislation here

  • StS,

    The issues I raised may well be insurmountable, and may be grounds for abandoning the whole project. Our kashrut organizations can’t even agree whether Nutri Grain is kosher or not; what hope is there to find consensus on a definition of kosher? Sometimes, there is a better way, and sometimes, it’s just an idea that has no legs whose consequences have not been fully considered.

  • On the topic of laws in the US, the NJ seems to be a good option
    from a comment on a post on Jcarrot

    Stephen Mendelsohn Says:
    August 6th, 2008 at 3:55 pm
    I believe neighboring New Jersey has a kosher law that can withstand constitutional muster. It merely requires kosher restaurants and groceries to post a sign listing their certifiying agency, frequency of inspection, and has a short checklist for consumers to check for specific kosher standards, without entangling into denominational differences as to what exactly is kosher.
    BTW, New Jersey also has a similar law regarding halal food. The idea here is consumer protection is a legitimate state function; religious favoritism is not.


  • Amy says:

    Yes there are a number of rumors going around here about pressure of rabbi Silberberg to desist. I for one, sure hope that he is strong enough to withstand the pressure of KA.

    Monopolies are BAD BAD BAD and cost us money

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