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Israel Approves Female Kosher Supervisors

In a landmark decision earlier this month, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate agreed to allow women to take the necessary steps to becoming certified kosher supervisors.

The decision comes after a lawsuit filed with the High Court of Justice by Emunah, an organization which offers an array of services including vocational schools and a women’s college.

The petition argued that their program, which passed 16 women last year, conformed to the national requirements, and demanded an explanation for why the women had been refused certification.

Course graduate Avivat Rabi was a co-petitioner in the suit.

Kosher supervisors are responsible for overseeing food production facilities, including kosher kitchens in places like restaurants and factories.

Though Jewish Law is typically thought to allow women to serve as mashgiachot, some have argued that it violates general principles of modesty. In 2010, the Chief Rabbinate began requiring that kosher supervisors undergo at least four years of yashiva training, making it unfeasible for women to fulfill the requirements.

Though rare even before the 2010 decision, there are a small band of women – hired prior to the new guidelines – who have been working as mashgiachot for years.

In the United States where certification laws are considerably more relaxed, the field has seen an upshot of women in recent years. In 2009 the Orthodox Union began offering women kashrus seminars according to The Jewish Week.

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