Israel Rabbi Proposes 'Virtual' Kosher Supervision - via Video Cameras

Be'er Sheva's chief rabbi suggests placing cameras in restaurant kitchens to send feeds straight to supervisors.

The extended hours at Be'er Sheva bars and restaurants have brought the proprietors an additional expense: paying kashrut supervisors. So the city's chief rabbi, Yehuda Deri, proposed a solution: placing cameras in restaurant kitchens in order to send video feeds straight to the supervisors of Jewish dietary law.

Deri, the brother of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri, believes the idea will save businesses money while improving kashrut supervision.

Deri's plan was formulated after several business owners complained they were paying kashrut supervisors for very few hours of work.

"The restaurant owners can reduce the burden and link the cameras to us," he said. "That way there will be comprehensive and consistent supervision, and we will also help reduce their considerable financial expenses."

Deri said the cameras would save business owners hundreds of shekels a month. "We, of course, will not force any business proprietor to do so, but if he wishes to, the cameras will cost about NIS 139 a month - much less than keeping supervisors for extended hours," he said.

"Naturally, the cameras will not replace the kashrut supervisors, who by virtue of their position also sort through rice, receive goods shipments, and salt meat - things the cameras cannot do," he said. "But cameras can save business owners from paying supervisors for two to three hours of work a day."

Deri said proprietors have expressed enthusiasm about the proposal, and that the Be'er Sheva rabbinate will soon begin partly subsidizing installation and monthly fees for the cameras.

Liron Yifrah, owner of the city's Casa do Brazil restaurant, said, "I think the rabbi's initiative is very positive. The camera initiative will save us business owners on the expense of supervisors, and no less important, restaurants will have greater kashrut enforcement."

But another cafe proprietor was less enthusiastic about the program: "This is a serious invasion of privacy. Soon they'll want to videotape the register.

"Nobody needs to enter my business, or to see how much I earn," he said.