I love Israel and have flown there some 5 times over the past decade, but some things always make it a pain. Renting a car is always a hassle. Every time I’ve gone there has either been a charge for an imaginary new scratch on the car or there has been a discrepancy between the quoted price and the final bill.
The Kashrus situation in Israel is even more annoying though. I try to keep a high standard of kashrus at home, from Cholov Yisroel, Pas Yisroel, Chassidisher Shchita meat, etc. When I eat out it’s fairly simple to find restaurants that have widely acceptable hechshers.
At the end of the day it doesn’t always work out. I likely ate non-kosher Chinese food as a 10 year old kid in Cleveland when Peking was busted serving treif food and was forced to close their doors. It’s been more than 23 years since that incident and despite the massive Orthodox population boom in Cleveland, nobody has attempted to open another kosher standalone chinese restaurant here.
As “sky121” posted on DDF, “When you get to heaven after 120 years and they ask you if you ate kosher, you’ll have no problem saying that you’re not sure, but you definitely paid for kosher!”
It gets hairier in other countries, but it’s not too hard to find the right balance between what is or isn’t acceptable for my personal standards. In Paris I avoid meat restaurants that are under the local Beth Din, but there are other good options there. In Rome I wasn’t comfortable that most of the meat restaurants serve non-glatt food, but still managed to find one that did not. Etc.
In Israel I find things a lot more difficult. There are hundreds of hechshers and the same one that one person will say is good, the next person will say is not acceptable. That means I have to do a ton of research with every trip and figure out what the right balance is based on what I’ll eat in the US. And of course each time there’s something new, so if the term mehadrin wasn’t hard enough to understand before for each city in Israel that interprets it differently, now there are terms like mehuderet to learn for a restaurant like Crave, which was opened and managed by a partner who also owns Teaneck’s Nobo.
Hotels in Israel have higher standards to keep than regular Rabanut restaurants, but many of them can’t qualify for mehadrin hechshers due to various factors including Jews in the hotel working on Shabbos, having a separate catering kitchen in the basement for affairs that might not use mehadrin meat, and relying on Bishul Yisroel with a fire started by a Jew, which is acceptable for Ashkenazim but not for Sephardim.
The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem was opened by the Reichman family of Toronto in 2014. I did research into the hotel before each stay with the mashgichim and other Rabbis and was comfortable enough to eat there based on the exclusively glatt and cholov yisroel food served there. It goes without saying that everyone should do their own research and not rely on me. It was nice that a frum family owned the hotel, but given that Cleveland’s Peking was also owned from a frum Jew when he fed the community non-kosher food I always try to do my own up-to-date research.
The hotel was recently sold and it seems that the Reichman family felt the need to advertise and let people know that they were no longer overseeing the kashrus at the hotel. As the hotel only has a Rabanut hechsher, I suppose some people who might not eat Rabanut would rely on the Reichman’s to uphold higher standards. This email was sent out from by Ruth Weiss of AdLib Unlimited on 6/13:
Today, Ruth Weiss of AdLib Unlimited sent out another email, which appears to be an ad masquerading as an interview, touting the bona-fides of the hotel’s head mashgiach:
I do wish the Waldorf would find a way to get a higher level hechsher on the hotel, but given that their predominantly frum clientele eats there anyway, they likely don’t feel any pressure to make that happen.
I reached out to AdLib for comment earlier today, but did not receive a response as of yet.
What do you make of kashrus in Israel and the Waldorf’s email campaign?