Kashrut Certification Restored to Conservative Youth Hostel

The Jerusalem Religious Council has ruled to restore kashrut certification to a youth hostel operated by the Conservative movement, in a move prompted, in part, by persuasion from American Orthodox groups.

The rabbinate’s decision overturns a June ruling that withdrew the 15-year-old certification of the popular hostel. Rabbi Yehoshua Pollak, head of kashrut supervision at the rabbinate, likened the hostel at the time to a “monastery” that “destroys the Jewish religion.”

This week’s ruling resolves for the time being a bitter dispute between the Jerusalem rabbinate and the Conservative movement, which filed suit against the rabbinate in July.

In welcoming the decision, Rabbi Pesach Schindler, director of the Center of Conservative Judaism in Jerusalem, said that he especially wanted to thank American Orthodox rabbis for their action on behalf of the hostel.

Schindler was referring to consultations between the rabbinate and representatives of American Orthodox groups, including the Rabbinical Council of America, who acted as moderators in the dispute.

In New York, Rabbi Max Schreier, president of the RCA, said that he met with the head of the Jerusalem rabbinate to discuss the issue and that the RCA had issued statements in support of the Conservative movement’s position.

While acknowledging that “fundamental differences” between the Conservative and Orthodox movements remain, Schreier said, “We’re happy that this was resolved in this manner. As far as we’re concerned, if people want to eat kosher, they should be able to eat kosher.”

Rabbi Albert Lewis, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the Conservative movement’s rabbinical body, welcomed the restoration of the kashrut certificate in a statement Monday.

“We hope that as Jews usher in the year 5749, the forces for moderation will prevail over the extremist voices,” Lewis said in New York. He also expressed the hope that “any differences that may occur can be resolved via friendly discussions, especially with the elimination of political rancor.”

(Reporter Andrew Silow Carroll in New York contributed to this story.)

NEXT STORY