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Galus Exclusive: Rabbi Rabi Responds to RCV Accusation

August 22, 2013 – 12:59 pm18 Comments

From the editor:

galus exclusive2Yesterday, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria sent out the the following media release (hat tip Emmanuel’s list):

It has recently been brought to the attention of The Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) that claims made by the local business ‘It’s Kosher’ on its website that its hechsher is endorsed by the Chief Rabbanut of Israel are both false and misleading.

The Rabbanut has clarified that no such endorsement has been issued, and while it did approve one specific product some four years ago, this does not constitute an endorsement of the “It’s Kosher” hechsher.

The Rabbanut further clarified that it has a policy not to approve any products under the supervision of this Hechsher.

“Leaving aside the concerns expressed to the RCV relating to the Halachic standards adopted by the said business,” RCV President Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant said, “this misleading statement about the Israeli Rabbanut is deeply concerning to the RCV. If it is the case that the false statement was made to mislead and deceive the public by claiming that its Hechsher is supported by the Israeli Rabbinate, this would call into question the integrity of those running the ‘It’s Kosher’ business”.

***

Meir Rabi’s It’s Kosher authority responded:

LichVod HaRav Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, Shelita, and all the esteemed Rabbanim of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, Shelita.

it’s kosher, does not now and has never sought endorsement from the Israeli Rabbinate. Our understanding is that this is not the function of the Israeli Rabbinate and that they would not and do not endorse ‘any’ Kosher agency either in Israel or elsewhere. In 2010, we provided kosher certification advice and our hechsher to an Australian Chocolate Manufacturer who was then located at a factory in Coburg Victoria.

This product was subsequently imported into Israel by a third party company operating in Israel. As you know, all food products manufactured outside of Israel that claim to be kosher and are to be sold and consumed in Israel must be approved, prior to importation. The third party Israeli importer completed and submitted the appropriate paperwork to the Rabbinate and following assessment was issued with permission to import. Our claim, is that a product manufactured in Australia with our Kosher Certification was accepted by the Israeli Rabbinate in 2010. nothing more, nothing less.

This is irrefutable by the RCV, Rabbi Lasri of the Israeli Rabbinate or anyone else!

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18 Comments »

  • Ari Silbermann says:

    R’ Rabi:

    While I’m not sure why the the RCV takes issue with some of your products being endorsed by the Rabbanut aswell as you explained. To the unknowing consumer the claims on your website do seem to say that Kosher veyosher is ‘endorsed’ by the Rabbanut as a hechsher in its own right. It states there,, ‘Recognised by the Israeli Chief Rabbi’s Office’ and on that link there is not the above explanation only the following: All foods imported into Israel must qualify as Kosher. The government authority that regulates this is a Division of the Rabbanut office that is dedicated to Kashrut and which regulates all Kosher standards in Israel.
    Next to that there is the logo of the Rabbanut Kashrut saying ‘certified kosher by the rabbanut of Israel.’
    Now to my eye as an Israeli I know that that logo together with the ‘certifies kosher’ is simply the hechsher symbol of the rabbanut but to others it looks like a thorough endorsement of Kosher Veyosher. Now if you are saying that the Rabbanut will give endorsement of any of your products because they rely on your hechsher in all areas fine, but if not then it is as they say “kosher but [probably] not kosher veyosher”.

  • Shulem says:

    I will never accept any product that has a hechsher where the authority of that hechsher is constantly challenged.
    Am I looking for a token hechsher or do I want to feel confident that the product is fully acceptable by other authorities as well?
    R. Rabi’s Kosher Veyoshor doesn’t seem to fit the criteria.
    His is always questioned and that isn’t good enough for the serious kosher consumer.
    I don’t know what R.Rabi’s indentions are, but having read some of the adverts of the establishments he has under his certification as kosher is not what I would consider acceptable, and I do know the laws of kashrut.

  • Benseon Apple says:

    The claim that the Rabbanut “recognises” and “relies upon” R Rabi’s hechsher AS A WHOLE has been displayed prominently on the KvY/It’s Kosher website.

    It is deceitful in the extreme for R Rabi to now claim that the endorsement relates simply to ONE product and that he never claimed any “endorsement” by the Rabbanut beyond that one product.

  • meir rabi says:

    Thank you everyone for your observations, I have reworded our webpage to read:
    “All foods imported into Israel must be assessed and determined to be Kosher by the Israeli Rabbanut Kashrut Division.

    Relying solely upon our Kosher certification, a food manufactured in Australia was accepted by the Israeli Rabbanut Kashrut Division and accordingly marketed and sold in Israel”

    Ari, you are not sure why the the RCV takes issue with some products bearing our Hechsher being endorsed by the Rabbanut. I am sorry but I cannot provide any illumination upon the matter. We too are in the dark.

    To the ordinary reader of our website, I presume that it makes not one whit of a difference. They glance for a moment, see the Rabbanut mentioned, and walk away knowing that we have some Australian product bearing the Hechsher of the Rabbanut and being sold in Israel. The Rabbanut is not an endorser of Hechshers.

    Yes, we display a series of logos, including that of the Rabbanut Kashrut and our Kosher logo, as they appeared when the product was being marketed in Israel. And Yes, those products were ‘certified kosher by the rabbanut of Israel.’ based solely upon our Hechsher here in Australia.

    Does it appear to some as though it is a thorough endorsement of Kosher Veyosher? Perhaps, but is that an issue that pertains to the readers or me, the publisher? You are entitled to your opinion, I respect you and your opinion, but I think you will agree that I am not compelled to agree with your perspective. There is no reason for us to suspect that the Rabbanut will not continue with confidence to accept our Hechsher in the future. I doubt they would accept it on meat or chicken, but that is neither here nor there.

    Shulem, no one demands that you accept any Hechsher, but I would advise you to use the word never, with great caution.

    You will certainly know that there are some who will not accepet even the BaDatz of Yerushalayim. Amongst them, there are some who can explain their reasons, there are others who are just followers; just as some people will never buy Ford and others will never buy Holden.
    You don’t know what my intentions are? why not read what is published on our website? You may be pleasantly surprised by what you see and learn.

    Bension, we are very proud, although we did not pursue it, the decision of the Rabbanut to rely solely upon our Kosher certification and thereby permit the marketing and sale of an Australian manufactured food in Israel. That is why this information has been displayed prominently on the KvY/It’s Kosher website.

  • meir rabi says:

    A message I received [slightly modified to “ease” the language]

    The RCV has misrepresented the Rabbanut’s letter. The words, “the Rabbanut further clarified that it has a policy not to approve any products under the supervision of this Hechsher”, are not the words of the Rabbanut.

    We must suspect that the RCV [or their proxy] wrote to the Rabbanut: “We the roof body of the orthodox rabbinate representing all the orthodox rabbis in the state of Victoria must [falsely] report, that a local “Rabbi” who is either so evil or so incompetent that he gave a Hechsher for Chohmetz on Pesach, claims on his web page that you are endorsing his Hechsher.”

    If the Rabbanut did respond, they did so without knowing the true state of affairs: the claims are entirely false and without foundation, and in this case, the RCV represents only a very small fringe group, with a decidedly distorted and self serving agenda.

    Rabbi Kluwgant Shelita will soon realise [and he should have already understood this] that his attempts to harm Meir Rabi have failed, and in fact have only succeeded in destroying any trust in him and the RCV.

    See http://www.rabanut.gov.il/vf/ib_items/2/nohal_yevoo.pdf, where it states, top of page 11:

    “אישור הרבנות הראשית לישראל מתייחס לכשרות המוצר בלבד ולא כהכרה ברב המכשיר באופן גורף אם ישנו חשש סביר באשר לפיקוח הכשרות של הרב המכשיר בחו”ל ,מחלקת הייבוא תדרוש מהיבואן שנציג הרה”ר יבקר במפעל של הרב המכשיר, וללא בקור במפעל הבקשה תתעכב עד לבירור העניין”.

    In the introduction to their policy they write:

    “כל חומרי הגלם והמוצרים המיובאים לארץ אמורים להיות מיוצרים תחת כשרות מוסמכת אבל
    לדאבוננו ולצערנו ישנם רבנים וגופי כשרות הפועלים בחוץ לארץ אשר לא ניתן לסמוך עליהם כלל
    ואף על פי כן הם מרשים לעצמם להנפיק תעודות כשרות למוצרים שונים (ראה לקמן חוזר של
    הרבנות הראשית בנדון) , ביניהם גם רבנים מחו”ל שאינם משתייכים לזרם האורתודוקסי.
    בנוסף לכך קיימים יבואנים אשר מרשים לעצמם לזייף הכשרים בשיטות שונות מבלי לחשוש
    להיתפס וזאת בהעדר פיקוח מלא, הזיוף נעשה במקרים רבים בחו”ל ובמקרים אחרים הדבר נעשה בארץ על ידי הדבקת תווית עם כיתוב כשרות שאינו אמת. למעשה ניתן למצוא בארץ מספר רב של מוצרים לא כשרים עם תווית המעידה כביכול שהמוצר כשר אף למהדרין.

    מלבד נהלי כשרות בסיסיים המחייבים כל הרבנים הנותנים הכשרים, יש לרבנות הראשית
    לישראל דרישות כשרותיות נוספות אשר רבנים וגופי כשרות מפורסמים בחו”ל אינם מקפידים
    עליהן מסיבות שונות והעיקרית שבהן היא שבצוק העתים ומצב יהודי הגולה , ניתן לדעתם לסמוך
    על קולות הלכתיות מסוימות אמנם הרבנות הראשית לישראל החליטה שאין מקום לאותן קולות בארץ ישראל”.

    As to what Meir Rabi wrote:

    “I have reworded our webpage to read: “All foods imported into Israel must be assessed and determined to be Kosher by the Israeli Rabbanut Kashrut Division”.

    There is no law that prohibits selling non kosher food in Israel. The wording should read:

    “All foods imported into Israel as kosher foods. must be assessed and determined to be Kosher by the Israeli Rabbanut Kashrut Division”, as חוק איסור הונאה בכשרות
    prohibits only selling (local or imported) food, as kosher food, without a Rabbanut certificate:
    http://www.nevo.co.il/law_html/law01/017_001.htm
    איסור הונאה בייצור
    4. (א) יצרן של מצרך לא יציין על מצרך שייצר או על אריזתו כי הוא כשר ולא יציגו ככשר בפרסום או בדרך אחרת, אלא אם כן ניתנה לו תעודת הכשר.
    (ב) יצרן של מצרך שניתנה עליו תעודת הכשר, לא ישווק מצרך שאינו כשר לפי דין תורה בציון שהוא כשר.
    איסור הונאה במכירה
    5. העוסק במכירת מצרכים לציבור לא ימכור ולא יציע למכירה מצרך שאינו כשר לפי דין תורה תוך הצגתו בכתב ככשר.

  • Benseon Apple says:

    “I have reworded our webpage”

    Rabbi Rabi, you are to be commended for amending the deceitful wording on your site in relation to the Rabbanut.

    However, in order to ensure that your site is deception-free, you should also:

    1. Remove the photos of you with famous rabbonim – viewers might mistakenly assume that your kashrus has the imprimatur of these rabbonim.

    2. Remove the letter from the London Beis Din which Dayan Abraham has repeatedly asked you to stop publicising as it has nothing to do with your kashrus certification.

    3. Remove the out-of-context references on your site and Facebook page to Rabbis Moshe and Mordechai Gutnick in relation to specific products (eg laffa matzah) or outlets (eg Lord of the Fries) that you supervise. These quotes have been used by you to infer that the rabbis in question endorse the kashrus of these products/outlets, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Needless to say, a kashrus agency that purports to be “kosher veyosher” should do all it can to avoid deceiving the public…

  • frosh says:

    Oh dear! We have an almost completely dysfunctional beth din (I use the world “almost” generously – see here and here), and it seems every other week another case of child abuse is revealed to the public, but instead of dealing with those pressing issues, the RCV is spending its time trying to protect its kashrut monopoly via הוצאת שם רע. Let’s hope Moshiach is coming soon!

  • meir rabi says:

    Bension,

    Your commendations are heartfelt, and I refer to both our hearts. But you misunderstand, there was no deceit. There is only pain, the pain that prolongs our Galus, the pain of envy, that distorts pure plain reading and meaning into a distorted confusion of apoplectic pretext.

    I am pleased you read our site so assiduously however, in order to ensure that your mind is distortion-free, you should avail yourself of the opportunity to cleanse your heart and contact me for a direct chat, preferably over a long cold beer.

    There are many mistakes people make and might make in life.
    1. Being concerned for every fear that may cause offense to someone somewhere on the planet – that is a recipe for paralysis or obsessive compulsive disorder.

    2. A commendation that assures you that I am “an outstanding Torah scholar who possesses many exceptionally admirable qualities.” ought to be more than enough to provide you with the confidence that I am indeed deserving of your confidence and dare I say, you respect. It certainly suggests that although not a satellite of the LBD nor recommended by them, I am a fairly good fellow on whom to rely for Kashrus.

    2a. I am particularly proud of, “He has applied himself with astonishing diligence for decades, acquiring mastery over a vast array of Torah matters and is particularly competent in applying practical Halacha.
    I have absolute confidence in his judgement and rulings and am equally confident that all who are associated with him will benefit from his wisdom and experience in Torah and life values.”

    2b. Can you think of any other rabbi who has such a glowing reference from the LBD?

    3. When I quote Rabbis Gutnick, regarding Exodus Soft Laffa Matzah and Lord of the Fries, it is only with the desire to promote truth. Thus we are all united in promoting Halacha accurately, and when people labour under a misapprehension that a food manufacturing facility, that has some Jewish ownership, is not able to provide Kosher if they Nebech operate during Shabbos, it is a distinct honour to quote Rabbi Gutnick who says that in fact they CAN provide Kosher. This signals that we DO share a common platform and ambition: to cultivate respect for Halacha. Indeed, Rabbis Gutnick have for all intents and purposes, supported the Halacha upon which I have provided various Kosher productions.

    Kosher VeYosher is mighty proud of its service to Yidden and Yiddishkeit. Our motto – The entire world is our friend, they just don’t all yet know it, succeeds and gains momentum every day and every hour. I am sure that after our chat over that long cold beer, you and I will have a much better perspective and understanding. I should point out that Rabbi Moshe Gutnick has shown courage and integrity by removing the entire post and all comments that reflected so badly upon Kashrus, Rabbanim and his hasty ill measured words. Surely a propitious symbol for all of us at this time of our Jewish calendar.

    Shana Tova for a Year of Peace Prosperity Redemption and Truth

  • Benseon Apple says:

    Rabbi Rabi, you suggest that there is no deceit, but rather “the pain that prolongs our Galus, the pain of envy, that distorts pure plain reading and meaning into a distorted confusion of apoplectic pretext”.

    Obviously I am filled with the pangs of being in Galus, I am envious, and I have an apoplectic pretext, and that is why I have termed the self-praise on your site deceitful.

    No doubt the pain of galus and envy were also responsible for the letter from London Beth Din (November 2007) that has been widely circulated on several occasions, of which I quote the final two paragraphs:
    “Immediately when this Beth Din became aware of the misuse of Dayan Abraham’s letter, the fact that it was being publicised as an endorsement of R’ M Rabi’s kashrus organisation, we contacted him and, after expressing our great disappointment and grave concerns, instructed him to remove Dayan Abraham’s name and that of the London Beth Din from any and every connection with his organisation.

    “Despite repeated requests and deadlines over the past few months he has unfortunately refused to comply with that instruction. R’ M Rabi was made perfectly aware of the consequences of his decision. Regrettably he has left us with no alternative but to make this public statement.”

  • Edith says:

    I agree with Frosh. Perhaps the Beth Din can make a similar statement of dissatisfaction with those that let/paid for Leifer to flee overseas, which wasn’t that long ago.

  • meir rabi says:

    Bension, I urge you to take up the offer for that long cold beer. Also take time to read my posting slowly. Your latest comments skip over many very significant points.

    Every person blessed with the power of common sense sees that all this babble is just a digression from the main theme, the Halacha of Kashrus. I make no demand that you trust me, but you must agree that your choice be upon matters of substance.

    And consider this: if it is true that a request was made or a demand issued that Yonassan’s letter be removed, there is no legitimate or honourable grounds to support such a request or demand.

    Furthermore, considering that the fire of honourable principles and Gd’s Honour burns so brightly in your breast, I put it to you that you should champion the cause of Kashrus by leading the charge to correct the travesty in many of our certified Kosher eateries, in Melbourne and Sydney, which are owned and operated by non-Shomrey Shabbos, and which do not employ full time Kosher supervisors. Neither do they employ systems that prevent or deter on-going substitution of very expensive Kosher foods, even meat and fish, with far less expensive, and indistinguishable, non-Kosher alternatives.
    Random visits by a Mashgiach is inadequate, there is nothing for the Mashgiach to detect and nothing to be observed that will reveal or suggest that indistinguishable, non-Kosher substitutes are being used.

    And I am sure Frosh and Edith would agree to add this to the Beis Din’s PRIORITY To Do List

  • david segal says:

    http://galusaustralis.com/2013/08/7739/galus-exclusive-what-the-hell-is-danby-doing-breaking-news-meir-rabi-condemns-rcv-a-new-beth-din-more/#comment-64245

    In breaking news: the dispute between Meir Rabi‘s kashrut authority and the RCV heats up with serious accusationsbeing leveled at the Rabbinate. [we have placed certain sections in bold]

    Kalman Gradstein of the It’s Kosher authority writes to the RCV:
    “Please advise the President and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) of the following,

    We are surprised and disappointed that the (RCV) would act on advice received from one of our competitors (The K.A.of NSW&NZ) now, for something that has been on our website for the last 3 years without prior consultation with us and followed by a media release that we believe showed little respect for the principles of natural justice and halachic legitimacy.

    In addition, we believe it is highly suspicious and potentially nepotistic that the RCV chose to hurriedly make this announcement in the same week that one of our long-term kosher certified company’s ‘Lord of the Fries’ opened its newest store in the Sydney CBD (K.A. of NSW&NZ Turf) which initiated some 30 metre long queues of Jewish and Non-Jewish patronage, not to mention an avalanche of comments and opinions of varying shades and colours on the ‘Facebook Page’ of The K.A.of NSW&NZ.

    To date, no authenticated correspondence has been received by us from the Israeli Rabbinate and until we are notified by them directly, we continue to believe that the product kosher certified by us and approved by them in 2010 is valid.

    We cannot accept ‘cut and paste/photo-shopped’ copies of alleged correspondence provided by one of our competitor, the K.A. of NSW&NZ as evidence of any wrong doing and are surprised at the lack of due diligence applied to this matter by the RCV and suggest that the motives of the K.A. of NSW&NZ are commercially based.

    We intend to publish this travesty of natural and Halalchic justice as perpetrated by the RCV to as broad a constituency as possible this afternoon.

    We look forward to your response”.

  • Shulem says:

    Meir Rabi, I stand strong in my ” never” accepting YOUR hechsher.
    Yours is too controversial and at times misleading, and although you degrade the RCV and it’s current president, they both have more credibility than you.
    You certainly are eloquent in your expressions and possess a glib tongue, but to the discerning kashrut observer you are a long way from being a universally accepted authority.
    Until I hear from other prominent rabbonim here, that your authority is acceptable, as far as I am concerned, it isn’t.
    I wish you a Shana Tova and that the new year bring much better news than what we have had this year.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I thank Hashem every day that He has blessed me to see an age where a “discerning kashrut observer” lectures a recognised rabbi concerning his hechsher…

  • Ben says:

    Shulem, I didn’t see you reply to Rabbi Rabi’s charge that KA approves establishments operated by non-shomrei Shabbat without fulltime hashgacha.
    I understand that these include meat,fish and milchig establishments

  • david segal says:

    Kalman Gradstein of the It’s Kosher authority writes to the RCV: “…We cannot accept ‘cut and paste/photo-shopped’ copies of alleged correspondence provided by one of our competitor, the K.A. of NSW&NZ as evidence of any wrong doing and are surprised at the lack of due diligence applied to this matter by the RCV and suggest that the motives of the K.A. of NSW&NZ are commercially based”.

    I don’t think that he will show you the original letter of rabbi Lasry, because of many possibilities reasons either because sections were deleted, or it is an old letter.

    When I logged in a few minutes ago, to the imports department of the Rabanut Harashit

    http://www.rabanut.gov.il/show_item.asp?itemId=117&levelId=61652&itemType=0

    I saw there, that the director of the import department of the rabbabut is Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen Arzi and not Rabbi Lasry while Rabbi Lasry is the head of the meat import department:

    http://www.rabanut.gov.il/show_item.asp?levelId=61651

    I don’t know since when was rabbi lasry the head of the meat import department, but I know that in an article written on כ טבת תשע״ג (2.1.2013), Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen Arzi is described as the head of the import department, see here:

    http://www.jdn.co.il/news/168556

    it is written in the Gmara in Bchorot 36a and in other places writes: כל מילתא דעבידא לאיגלויי – לא משקרי בה אינשי.

    Should I say that the Rabbanut forgot to update their web page or that human nature changed?

    ______________________

    shulem

    do you still think the RCV and it’s current president, have more credibility than M. Rabi?

  • kalman - it's kosher says:

    hi david segal, your posting = ‘don’t think that he will show you the original letter of rabbi Lasry, because of many possibilities reasons either because sections were deleted, or it is an old letter.’

    it’s kosher, has never received direct correspondence from the Rabbinut, including all of 2010. all paperwork for the kosher product (organic chocolate)imported into Israel from Australia in 2010 was completed by the Israeli importer (not us). the first sign of complaint about this product appeared last week (2013) on the Kashrut Authority of NSW Facebook page in the form of a ‘cut and paste,’ 3 to 4 line jotting, allegedly written by Rabbi Lasry from the rabbinut and un-signed. In 2010, rabbi lasry was the authorising rabbi at the rabbinut for this product (as I remember)and some telephone conversations did take place between Rabbi Rabi and Rabbi Lasry to both their satisfactions. subsequently the product was given documented authorisiation from the rabbinut/Rabbi Lasry (held by the importer)and imported into Israel.

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