"There is no desire to force businesses to have a kashrut certificate as long as they don't present themselves as kosher in writing. Publication in a newspaper, a flyer or on the web without a rabbinate certificate is against the law. In such cases the severest possible action will be taken against the offenders."
Chief Rabbis Declare War On (Some) Kosher Restaurants
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s law against kosher food fraud prohibits public display of a kosher certification certificate other than one issued by Israel’s haredi-controlled chief rabbinate, which also has a legal copyright on the word "kosher," which can’t be used to advertise a food product or restaurant in Israel without its approval.
In practice, the chief rabbinate allows haredi groups to have their own kosher supervision and to display those kosher certificates in restaurants and their kosher seals on food packages.
Even so, the rabbinate wants to crack down on about 10 restaurants in Jerusalem that say they are kosher but don’t have a kosher certificate from any recognized agency.
"There is no desire to force businesses to have a kashrut certificate as long as they don't present themselves as kosher in writing. Publication in a newspaper, a flyer or on the web without a rabbinate certificate is against the law. In such cases the severest possible action will be taken against the offenders,” Rafi Yohai, head of the rabbinate’s kosher fraud department told Ha’aretz.
The restaurants say they won’t give in to the rabbinate.
"This is intimidation. Too many places have gotten rid of their certificate and so they use threats. They cannot force me. Next time I won't let them in," Shai Gini, the owner of the Italian restaurant Topolino located in the Mahane Yehuda market.
Yonatan Vadai, the manager of Cafe Carousela in Rehavia, is a former haredi. He says he keeps all kashrut laws, but he refuses to work with the rabbinate's kosher supervisors.
Even so, diners wearing kippot can be seen eating there every day.
Vadai told Ha’aretz that a man identifying himself as a rabbinate kosher supervisor came to the café on Tuesday and threatened him.
"He said he had come because of advertising that the place was ‘kosher without a [kosher] certificate,’ and [he] said I was not allowed to present the place as kosher and [that] I could be fined NIS 2,000 [$516],” Vadai said.
But Vadai said he won’t give in.
"I'm thinking of making a big sign [to display in the café] that says ‘kosher without a certificate,’” he said.
But rabbinate supervisors say fines will be issued unless the restaurants comply.
“I really don't want it to go that far. But we will do what the law says. We don't want to force religion on anyone, but if a place is kosher, it has to be by the law,” Haim Malka, a rabbinate kosher supervisor for restaurants and shops in Machane Yehuda claimed.
Restaurants in heavily haredi neighborhoods are not being scrutinized by the rabbinate.