Tourist Tip #82 / Keeping Kosher in Israel, Part II

Going a step beyond the regional rabbanut kosher certification, the 'Mehadrin' designation indicates enhanced guards to remain vigilant against possible kosher transgressions.

In Israel, eating kosher can be a complicated thing. Yesterday, the Tourist Tip explained what “Kosher Rabbanut,” or basic kosher certification, means for Israeli restaurants that want to be classified as kosher. For those diners who are looking for an even stricter Kashrut certification, however, ask if the restaurant is “Mehadrin.”

Mehadrin literally means “beautiful” or “embellished." In these restaurants, the food is not just kosher, it's extra-kosher. There aren't just regular check-ins by the mashgiach, there is a full-time inspector on staff. And for meat to be served in a mehadrin restaurant, it has to also come from a slaughterhouse that has a full-time rabbi overseeing the schecht (killing). Only glatt-certified meat is good enough for a Mehadrin restaurant.

Jerusalem, with its large religious population, has its fair share of Mehadrin eateries. Tel Aviv has only a small handful. Several grocery stores in Israel, such as some of the outlets belonging to the Rami Levy, Osher Ad and Victory chains, are also certified as Kosher Mehadrin.

Mehadrin restaurants will almost always splash their extra-special certification across their awnings or on their windows, but if you ever aren't sure, just ask. Unlike Kosher Rabbanut certification, which comes at the city level, Mehadrin certification is done privately, through other higher-level Kosher organizations in Israel such as Badatz or Beit Yosef.

Quality, of course, comes at a price. While prices don't differ from Kosher Rabbanut restaurants by a huge margin, expect to pay a little bit more when dining at these extra-strict establishments.

If you're a religious Jew who will only eat at the standard of glatt at home, when traveling in Israel, Mehadrin restaurants will fit the bill.       

But for some Jews, even Mehadrin leaves too much to chance. For these diners, only the absolute strictest certification will do. To learn about this uber-high classification, the most kosher of kosher, check back tomorrow.