Currently, the Jewish state gives the chief rabbinate the exclusive right to certify restaurants and packaged foods as kosher. But a bill now before the Knesset would reform this system, allowing some degree of competition. David Stav, a prominent Israeli Orthodox rabbi, makes the case for such changes:
Rabbinical services and those aspects of Jewish life that are defined by our ancient traditions must be transparent and open. It is for this reason that this reform is so important for the very future of our Jewish nation and for Judaism in general.
[The current] centralized system by definition leads itself to inefficiency and, sadly, even corruption. A widespread presence of such irregularities was the conclusion of a comprehensive report on Israel’s kashrut industry issued several years ago by Israel’s state comptroller. . . . [W]hen you have a system with no competitors and limited oversight, it is only natural that it will lead to cutting corners, improprieties, increased costs and, unfortunately, a truly broken system.
It is also well worth pointing out that many within Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community recognize this, and even the very individuals who are involved with overseeing the rabbinate’s kashrut don’t trust it when it comes to the foods they will eat. Israel’s High Court has found that the current system is problematic because of the existence of illicit compensation relationships between business owners and supervisors.
In business, no one would accept such a scenario. So it is hard to believe that the people of the Jewish state should accept it when it comes to one of our most important and sacred traditions.