Published On: Tue, May 25th, 2021

Local New York Kosher Committee Sued for “Blacklisting” Kosher Restaurant

The La Kosher Nostra strikes again!

Chimichurri Charcoal Chicken (Facebook pic)

The Chimichurri Charcoal Chicken kosher restaurant is fed up with the mafia like tactics which it says local kosher supervision boards engage in when determining which is or is not kosher. The restaurant has filed a lawsuit after it was declared non-kosher by one group of local rabbis. These rabbis told people not to eat there simply because Chimichurri switched to a different group for its kashrut supervision, the lawsuit maintains.

Using real wood charcoal fire pits, Chimichurri is a Portuguese barbecue restaurant. Chimichurri boasts that it is a haven for chicken lovers as it offers authentic Portuguese style of barbecuing chicken to perfection over an open pit fire.

There is nothing new to this story. These kinds of disputes have been going on in America for decades. Different Orthodox rabbinic groups have been accused of coercion on the level of extortion as used by organized crime. This is why the kosher supervision business has been nicknamed “La Kosher Nostra.”

In matters of Jewish law, such as kosher supervision, responsibility is ordinarily held by a local committee of rabbis called a “vaad.” In this case the committee in question is the Vaad HaKashrus of Five Towns Far Rockaway.

“The existing Vaad does not want competition, is afraid of the competition, and is trying to use its power to drive them — or attempt to drive them — out of business,” the NY Post reports that the lawsuit says.

As of this posting the organization has taken down its warning about Chimichurri Charcoal Chicken from its website.

This is the sort of thing which you expect to hear about happening in Israel. But in America? In Israel there is a great debate raging over that nation’s government sanctioned Rabbinate and how it has a monopoly over the kashrut certification for all businesses. While no law in Israel prohibits competing groups from offering other kosher supervision services, the Rabbinate there claims that it is illegal for any business to call itself kosher without its certification.

Chimichurri Charcoal Chicken (Facebook)

But in America the courts have ruled that the First Amendment to the Constitution – which guarantees freedom of religion – prohibits any laws which deal with kashrut supervision because it is a religious matter.

The restaurant’s complaint was first brought before a religious Jewish court known as a Beit Din. The rabbis of the Beit Din found in Chimichurri’s favor. The post quoted its ruling as saying that the local rabbinical vaad “brazenly abused their rabbinic pedigree by insisting that their actions and intentions are beyond mortal scrutiny.” As a result the court gave the restaurant permission to take its case to a civil court.

Vaad HaKashrus of Five Towns Far Rockaway is a non-profit organization that was founded to supervise and certify retail establishments and commercial companies that cater to the kosher consumer in the local Five Towns area. Vaad Hakashrus says that it adheres to only the strictest standards of Kashrut. The organization has more 50 rabbis who represent both Jewish communities and yeshivas.

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