The Dining Dilemma

If you opened a Karaite "kosher" restaurant, what would you call it?

If you opened a Karaite “kosher” restaurant, what would you call it?

Okay, so the title of this post is a bit misleading. For that matter, so is the comic. There really isn’t much of a dilemma when it comes to observant Jews looking for kosher places to eat. Your choices are “dairy,” “meat,” or “parve.”

And there certainly isn’t anything as bold as “Cheeseburgers and Paradise,” which in my ideal world would serve food according to the Karaite/biblical standards. B’ezrat Hashem, one day soon!

But till then, Karaites have some work cut out for ourselves. As previously noted, the Rabbanut has been fining Karaite butcheries in Israel for using the word “kosher” to describe their products. Of course, the word “kosher”* does not appear in the Tanakh as a description for acceptable food. And that was all the room the authorities needed to argue that the word “kosher” is synonymous with Rabbinical certifications of food, and that Karaites cannot use the term because it would confuse Rabbanites.

Rather than pay the fine, the Karaites went to court. The suit pitted Rabbanites against Karaites before a Muslim judge. (No, that is not the start of a joke.) In any event, I recently spoke to someone in the Israeli Karaite leadership.  He told me that the judge did a spectacular amount of research and wrote a lengthy opinion showing that the word “kosher” is a word that all Jews may use and is not unique to Rabbanic certifications. Karaites win! That’s how it’s done, sports fans!

Eh. Not so fast.

The agency that leveled the fine appealed the judge’s ruling. The appellate court reviewed the facts of the case and dismissed it altogether, ruling (basically) that the initial court lacked jurisdiction to even hear the case. So, the end result is that the judge’s great opinion is no longer on the books and cannot be relied upon by others. (My understanding is that the fine was subsequently dropped.)

Not a bad result, but not ideal. Let’s hope the peace lasts. And if anyone knows a Hebrew or English site that wrote about the lawsuit, please send it my way.

*  *  *

Incidentally, a more “proper”designation might be tahor (or perhaps tahara), which the Torah does use to denote items which are permissible to eat. E.g., Deuteronomy 14:20.

Special thanks to Shimra Starr Illustrations for the comic and Jason Sutherland for adding A Blue Thread’s logo.


Filed under Kara & Robby, Karaite Rabbanite Relations, Kashrut

4 Responses to The Dining Dilemma

  1. Sha'ul Bentsion

    Shawn, do you know if those applying the fine happened to be the ultra-orthodox?

  2. maurice

    One point for justice. Kasher is a Hebrew word and anyone can use it. It would confuse the Rabbanites? Please. In any case, I like the suggestion of the word Tahor instead. It is more…pure.
    By the way, khet-lamed-vet, more often than not is khe’-lev, or fat instead of kho-lov’. Thus, cheeseburger in paradise may not be so far off.

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