JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Tel Aviv branch of the popular Israeli cafe chain Aroma turned kosher and will be supervised by a rabbinic group that is challenging the chief rabbinate’s hegemony over kashrut in Israel.
The move was hailed by activist restaurant owners in Israel, who say that the rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher supervision has led to corruption, and a general adversarial relationship between businesses and the rabbinical supervisors.
The Aroma branch on Menachem Begin Street will be certified kosher by the Food Supervision program of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, launched two months ago as an alternative to the rabbinate’s supervision program. Tzohar must call its service “food supervision” and not kashrut supervision since since Israeli law stipulates that only the Chief Rabbinate may use the word “kosher” in its certifying materials.
The Tel Aviv Aroma branch will now close on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The Aroma chain reportedly is in talks to bring more branches under Tzohar’s supervision.
Aroma operates eight shops in the United States, in Manhattan, New Jersey, Maryland and Miami Beach. None is certified kosher.