Conservative rabbi in Georgia sues over kosher law


SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A rabbi in Georgia is suing to have the state’s kosher law declared unconstitutional.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim in Cobb says the state’s Kosher Food Labeling Act delegitimizes non-Orthodox definitions of "kosher." Lewis is Conservative.

The law, in force in Georgia since 1980, requires that food sold as kosher in the state meet "Orthodox Hebrew religious rules and requirements."

The lawsuit notes differences in Conservative and Orthodox kashrut standards. The Conservative movement allows swordfish, forbidden by Orthodox authorities, and does not require a hechsher, or kosher supervision, on cheese or wine.

In his suit, Lewis says the law prevents him from exercising his faith when he seeks to certify kosher foods and is a violation of church-state separation.

New Jersey changed its kosher laws following similar objections in 1992, as did New York in 2005.

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