Israel continues to struggle with entanglement of temple and church. The latest battle occurred over the denial of a bakery, bakery, Pnina Pie, as a kashrut bakery. The denial was based on the faith of the owner, Pnina Comporati, who is a Messianic Jew. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered that Ashdod Rabbinate and the Chief Rabbinate Council to issue the certification.
Comporati, 51, was raised in a traditional Yemenite household, but sixteen years ago, she became a Messianic Jew who believes in Jesus Christ. Messianic Jews face hostility from both Christians and Jews. They believe in Jesus, whom they call Yeshua, but still follow traditional Jewish tradition such as Shabbat.
The case was a clear matter of religious discrimination.
In 2001, Comporati had not difficulty in securing certification when she opened but, when her faith became known, the certificate was revoked. The Ashdod Rabbinate engaged in blatant prejudice against her for her faith — saying that she could not be trusted to bake kosher due to her faith in Jesus and that, if she wanted certification, she would have to hire a full-time kashrut inspector, who would be present every hour the business was open and have sole possession of the keys when it was closed. Chief Rabbinate Council supported the decision as did Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
Justices Eliezer Rivlin, Yoram Danziger and Salim Joubran ruled that such certification cannot be denied on the basis of the faith of the owner unless the owner’s faith necessarily changed the content or preparation of the food.
The courts have continued to struggle with the tensions of intermingling of temple and state, including other recent controversies.. The problem is the governmental authority, delegated to this group under the Kashrut Law, to certify a purely religious matter. Israel is a nation divided between secular and religious parties. Even if the country insists on retaining a political system that gives small religious parties inflated power, it should embrace separation of temple and state as a principle to get the government out of these sectarian disputes. Anyone should be able to sell Kosher foods. If customers want the guidances of discriminatory groups like Ashdod Rabbinate, they can look for such certification on the door of the shop. Otherwise, most citizens might just want to enjoy the bread and go on with their lives.
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