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Belly Dancer Trying to Shake Up Israel’s Religious Establishment

An Israeli belly dancer is challenging the right of Jerusalem’s Orthodox establishment to put her out of business by threatening to revoke the kosher certification of any hotel that allows her to perform.

Ilana Raskin wants to know what her profession has to do with kashrut.

So does the High Court of Justice, which has given the Jerusalem Religious Council 45 days to explain why revoking kosher certification is necessary.

One answer offered by the attorney for the Religious Council is that a mashgiach (kashrut supervisor) could not be in the dining room of a hotel while the “abomination” of belly dancing was taking place.

The case is less frivolous than it may appear and could test the broad power the Chief Rabbinate and religious councils exert over business and social life in Israel.

For years, the rabbis have enforced a measure of Sabbath observance on the non-observant population by threatening to revoke the kashrut licenses of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.