The purpose of this memo is to offer a transparent presentation of the process followed by the Vaad when a new establishment applies for our kosher certification, and to share Vaad policies which are unknown or misunderstood by much of the general community.
Since its inception 34 years ago, the Vaad has recognized that Jewish communities flourish when there is a wide range of local kosher stores, and our community is well served by the presence and continued growth of kosher food establishments. For this reason, the Vaad has invested countless hours meeting with individuals who expressed an interest in operating local kosher eateries. We have endeavored to accommodate every new proposal for a kosher establishment as well as encourage new establishments to open. Some of these ventures turned into reality, but most were abandoned by the potential proprietors. Our community is relatively small. Many establishments have not survived for long periods of time, and new businesses are often not willing to risk the significant investment of capital associated with opening a new store.
Some are under the misimpression that the Vaad will not accept a new application from a store that will compete with an existing kosher establishment under our supervision. Nothing is further from the truth. The Vaad never grants exclusivity to any store under its supervision. It is our belief that it is not the role of the Vaad to decide which businesses should be allowed to benefit our community. We have made this policy known to all new applicants, as well as to store owners under our supervision. If multiple pizza shops, bakeries, butcher shops, restaurants, etc. would apply for Vaad supervision, all such stores would be certified, if appropriate kosher criteria are met.
That said, Halacha affords a store owner a limited form of redress from competition which could possibly threaten the viability of his business. This Halachic principle is known as Hasagas G’vul (knownin secular law as encroachment). The laws of Hasagas G’vul are complex and take into account many variables and considerations. If a store owner believes that another establishment will unduly infringe on his business, he has the right to summons his perceived competitor to a Din Torah.
Members of the Vaad do not participate in a Din Torah between local stores because we generally know one or both litigants and cannot serve as impartial judges. If there is a request for a Din Torah, the Vaad will refer the matter to a Beis Din for adjudication. If the Beis Din decides in favor of the currently supervised establishment, the Vaad will not grant supervision to the new store. If not, the Vaad will grant the new store supervision, so long as it is in compliance with the Vaad’s kosher criteria. As part of its rules of supervision, the Vaad expects store owners to respond to appropriate requests for a Din Torah and to abide by the decisions of the Beis Din. The Vaad will not grant supervision to any store that ignores the Beis Din process.
Over the years, there have been a number of Dinei Torah between our local establishments and those who proposed to open in our community. To date, to the best of the Vaad’s knowledge, a Beis Din has not ruled that a new store may not open in our community because of Hasagas G’vul, though at times the Beis Din has restricted the proposed store from offering certain menu items that an established store has on its menu, in order to limit direct competition.
The Vaad strongly encourages the community to support our local establishments. Some people shop in other neighborhoods or contract caterers from outside the community, for a variety of reasons. However, such a practice makes it more difficult for our local establishments to maintain profitability and it reinforces the perception that it is not easy for a new business to thrive in our community. It istherefore in everyone’s best interest to patronize our local stores whenever possible. Such allegiance also strengthens the achdus and harmony within our community.
The Vaad continues to make every effort to support the growth of our wonderful community. If you have questions about these matters, please feel free to contact any member of the Vaad.