Our mission is to provide clear, accessible and transparent kashrus information and services to anyone living in or visiting Israel.
For the last twenty years Rabbi Shmuel Weiner, a New Jersey native, has been living in Jerusalem and serving the English-speaking communities as both a shul Rabbi and Halachic advisor (posek) in numerous Yeshivas for American gap-year students.
A common theme in the questions he got from both students and young families in his community surrounded the complicated Israeli kashrus system. This includes difficulties understanding the cultural nuances in how information is provided and how policies here are implemented. Even well-known and respected Israeli kashrus organizations operate in a different language, using different jargon and standards than foreigners are used to. Confusion occurs when customers are unable to understand or navigate common food-related scenarios with regard to kashrus observance.
Rabbi Moshe Farkash, a Brooklyn native, has been working in the field of kashrus for over twenty years in varied capacities, and felt this same lack of clarity both personally and professionally when he arrived to live in Israel. He has a passion for assisting anyone who chooses to be able to make informed decisions about their kashrus observance.
Joining together, Rabbi Weiner and Rabbi Farkash combined their passion for helping the local and broader international community which fueled the beginning of Vaad D’Bnei Hayeshivos, and has continued as the driving force in the ongoing explosive expansion of the organization. Their unique position in the field as experts but not driven by any personal or political bias has helped them carve out an unprecedented role in the world of Kashrus.
After many hours of intensive work, mostly volunteered, Vaad D’bnei Hayeshivos has merited to serve individuals, families, groups and organizations by meeting our mission statement objectives in a most outstanding way.
Our vision became to de-mystify the complicated Israeli kashrus system, clarify important halachic issues, and provide information to anyone who endeavors to make well-informed decisions about anything they eat in Israel. Sometimes the vision plays out in information dissemination on specific food products, restaurants, hotels and private events people attend; sometimes in direct kashrus supervision our organization provides to restaurants or at events; and sometimes in private home hospitality. But always to whomever seeks it out.
There are currently 10 main areas of services provided by our organization, in which we have made tremendous inroads into servicing our community of English speakers in Israel, as well as the general public.
-Food Service Information:
Vaad D’bnei Hayeshivos researches food establishments under the hechsher of a variety of kashrus organizations in order to tell consumers what the status of the ingredients, supervision and cooking methods are, and how that lines up with common food service halacha. This enables customers transparent information to decide if they would eat food in that restaurant, even though they are unfamiliar with or don’t usually eat that hechsher. For example, a family visiting a city they aren’t familiar with, or who are together with visitors from out of Israel, can ask our staff about specific food establishments to find out what might be acceptable according to their own standards. In order to actually provide these services, many hours have been dedicated to breaking down cultural barriers between Israeli kashrus or food service professionals and our team. This includes explaining to
restaurant and hotel owners what, exactly, foreign customers are looking to know or see in their establishments, and why. Rabbis Weiner and Farkash travel all over the country making contact with rabbanim and professionals in the industry in order to be able to open communication and establish trust that is the basis for ongoing working relationships.
For anyone who requests, we provide a spreadsheet of restaurants in different cities and theirsupervision status. Our information hotline is open daily from 12-3pm, but in practice answers phone calls literally all day and night.
Since food products in Israel are imported from all over the world, and sometimes with lower-level supervision or complicated ingredients, consumers seek clarification in what halachic question at hand is, and whether they would use this product or not. An expert in networking with other kashrus organizations, poskim, and professionals around the world, Rabbi Farkash is able to obtain real-time information about a wide variety of food products, and explain to consumers what the status of those products are.
A notorious problem in Israel, almost no hotels are under the supervision of a higher standard hechsher. Rabbis Farkash and Weiner have been the first to break through the difficult barriers in many commonly visited hotels by making a working relationship with the staff and management. They have been allowed into the kitchens and storage rooms, surveyed food preparation, and given private phone numbers of top level mashgichim to contact when customers have questions or emergencies. This has positioned Vaad D’bnei Hayeshivos to help people from abroad be able to stay and eat in hotels without compromising their kashrus standards, and has allowed locals to join them for meals.
We currently offer supervision in 8 restaurants in Jerusalem, both dairy and meat. Because we are not politically involved in other aspects of food service (ie product import and distribution) we allow restaurant owners to use products from a wide variety of distributors and products that local hechsherim would not allow. Since we are familiar with products with hechsherim from around the world, the options are widened for food service establishments. This services restaurant owners, giving them flexibility and lower overhead, and also services our community by allowing more restaurants to visit comfortably.
Many young families in Jerusalem use in-home food service as a means of supporting themselves while in Israel. Vaad D’bnei Hayeshivos provides kashrus supervision that families would not be able to obtain from any other organization, which stipulate separate kitchens for food production. This service includes monthly visits to the home businesses to check that organization standards are being met, for a greatly discounted fee to the business owners, and enables them to sell their food products to the greater public without the cost of a separate kitchen.
Anyone travelling outside of Israel is able to contact the organization to obtain from their many world-wide contacts real-time information about kosher food options in and on the way to their destination.
Rabbi Weiner, a senior posek, is able to answer halachic questions to anyone who tries to reach him. He makes himself available at almost any time of day or night, answering questions ranging from straightforward to very complicated.
Families wishing to celebrate events at locations that do not have a high level hechsher can use Vaad D’bnei Hayeshivos’ private event supervision. We provide the highest standard supervision, making all guests and family members comfortable sharing in the meals.
This, too, has required a tremendous amount of networking in many venues to allow outside
supervision, which they generally do not allow.
Vaad D’beni Hayeshivos hosts classes, open to the public, on a variety of topics including shmitta, kashrus basics for new couples, introduction to Israeli kashrus to gap-year students, halachos of kashrus while travelling and more.
On average, we answer 40 emails, 30 whatsapps, and 25 phone calls a day, not
including halachic questions that Rabbi Wiener answers privately.
The Cohens boarded their flight to America expecting it to be uneventful. After an emergency landing in Greece, they were told that the next flight would not leave until the next morning – Shabbos! Unfamiliar with any kosher establishments in that city, they were stuck. The Cohens reached out to Rabbi Farkash, who on Friday morning, was able to reach out to the broader kashrus community and connect the family with a local restaurant with a reliable hechsher that would deliver shabbos food.
A man called the kashrus hotline asking for high level kosher restaraunts in the Tel Aviv area for his wife, who is not religious, and son. When he understood the nature of this scenario, Rabbi Farkash put together a list of places they could eat that would meet both husband and wife’s standards in a comfortable way.
The Whitts and Freidmans could not have had more different backgrounds – one from the Tristate, one from South America, one born and bred frum, one newly religious..... except that their children were getting married, in Israel, and they would have to make a way to meet on comfort levels when it came to hosting their and their children's guests. Vaad D’Bnei Hayeshivos was able to upgrade the kashrus at the wedding hall of their choice so that the Whitts had the beautiful hall they were hoping for, and the Freidmans could comfortably host their more halachically careful guests.