What’s fit and proper?

THE Manchester Beth Din is world-renowned and recognised for its impeccably high standards of kashrut. Rumours have abounded this week about a possible merger with its London counterpart. Those rumours have been denied robustly, although Manchester BD has revealed that the two organisations will be working more closely together in the future.

The issue brings to the fore once more the question of why kashrut authorities often refuse to recognise each other’s supervision. Kosher caterers cannot routinely offer their services in cities other than those where they are licensed by the local beth din or kashrut authority. And yet, the word ‘kashrut’ actually derives from the Hebrew root “Kaf-Shin-Reish” which means “fit” or “proper”.

We have often queried how it is possible that hechsherim are not universally accepted. Surely if something is considered kosher by a group of Orthodox rabbis or dayanim it should be fit religiously for consumption by all who adhere to kashrut. Why should there be any suggestion of differing standards?

Manchester and other batei din coming under the umbrella of a larger organisation might ultimately be beneficial for kashrut as a whole and eliminate the situations described above, or the unsavoury sight of rabbis refusing to eat food at a simcha which is under the supervision of an authority other than their own.

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