High Court Asks Why Rabbinate Won’t Certify U.s.-made Wines

Israel’s High Court of Justice has given the Chief Rabbinate three weeks to explain why it will not issue a kashrut certification to an American winery unless rabbis from Israel supervise its wine production.

The court was responding to a petition by U.S.-based Royal Wines, which produces Kedem and Manischewitz wines in the United States.

Royal, which also represents several Israeli wine producers in the United States, says it had accepted the rabbinical demand that it allow Israeli rabbis to oversee production of its Kedem and Jaquob de Herzog labels, which are exported to Israel.

But two years ago, the Chief Rabbinate announced it could no longer send representatives to the United States and could therefore no longer issue kashrut certification.

Royal told the court that the wines carry the O.U. label of the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America, and its wines are even accepted by such pious Jews as the Satmar Hasidim.

The Chief Rabbinate has declined to discuss the issue, because the case is before the court. But a spokesman pointed out that the rabbinate is not legally obliged to grant a kashrut certification to any firm or product.

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