Could El Al Lose Its Kashrus Certificate?

EL AL planes at Ben Gurion International Airport. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90
El Al planes at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

El Al could lose its kashrus certificate if it does not send representatives to an emergency meeting at the offices of the Chief Rabbinate in Yerushalayim Thursday. The report, by the NRG news agency, cites a letter sent by the Rabbinate to officials of Tamam, a subsidiary of El Al that caters in-flight meals for the airline, to discuss “serious violations of Rabbinate policies.”

At issue, according to previous reports on the matter, is the supply of meals by Tamam to El Al flights that leave immediately after Shabbos. While the carrier itself does not fly on Shabbos, flights that leave on Motzoei Shabbos need to be prepared in advance, and that includes supplying the galleys with Tamam meals. Scheduling requires that those meals be delivered hours before the flight, while it is still Shabbos.

While Tamam itself is completely closed on Shabbos and does not deliver meals either, management reportedly found a way to provide El Al with its meals – by placing them in refrigerators outside Tamam’s preparation facilities, with Jewish El Al workers picking them up themselves and bring them to the flights.

That is a violation of Rabbinate rules, and after several published reports on the matter, the Rabbinate has been seeking answers from Tamam – so far unsuccessfully. In a letter to El Al, Rafi Yochai, the head of the Rabbinate’s fraud division, said that the Rabbinate has been “for a week trying to invite you to a meeting – that you suggested – to clarify the matter and other issues that we have for many months sought to clarify.”

But to no avail, the letter said – and the Rabbinate has had enough of waiting. “If you do not immediately respond to this request, we are considering removing from ourselves responsibility for the kashrus of Tamam. We would undertake this step within 72 hours of sending this letter.” Tamam’s only chance for retaining its kashrus certificate is to appear at the meeting called by the Rabbinate for Thursday, the letter said.

The report quoted an El Al spokesperson as saying that they would respond. “We have nothing to hide, and we will do as the Rabbinate requires,” the spokesperson said.