Masorti Wine Supervision:
Kosher, Permissive, and Ethical
Purim is a wonderful holiday for children, a holiday for dressing up in costumes, parties, noisemakers and parades. However, this great holiday is also a holiday for wine. As any Talmudic scholar will tell you, talking about Purim without talking about wine just isn’t possible.
Although we do not need an excuse to talk about wine, a specific prompt is something we always enjoy, as it allows us to dive into a particular aspect of wine we might never have explored. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you materials we have prepared about the Masorti Movement's supervision on the Kashrut of wine.
1. We made a short movie telling the story of Masorti supervision of wine through the eyes of the winemakers and mashgichim. Click here to watch the movie
2. A glossary - a resource sheet providing an explanation of the terms concerning Kashrut of wine in general and the halachic ruling of the RA in Israel. Read or download click here
Before discussing the materials regarding Masorti supervision of wineries in Israel it might be helpful to understand a little about the system that prevails. With this background it will be easier to appreciate the significance of what the Masorti movement has accomplished.
The position of Chief Rabbinate wine supervisors is that no person who does not meet their standards is permitted in any way to have contact with the wine or have access to or control of the winery. This means that non-Orthodox winemakers cannot in any way touch their own wine or even hold keys to their own facility. To put into perspective how extreme this is, if a kippa-wearing Masorti rabbi were to accidentally touch the outside of a wooden cask of wine, the Chief Rabbinate supervisor would declare all of the wine in the cask to be unkosher.
There is further cost to all of this – a financial cost - because the winery has to pay for the cost of the supervision. For small wineries, this cost can be prohibitive.
The issues here involve not just the specifics of wine supervision but also the question of how Israeli society should deal with the Chief Rabbinate.
When the Masorti movement received the request from a winery in Mitzpe Ramon to provide them with supervision, we realized we were facing a unique opportunity to be a central part of Jewish activism in Israel.