Posted to Chabad News on

Restaurants Boycotted for ‘Ethical Hechsher’

Uri L’Tzedek certification on a Los Angeles restaurant.

A certification meant to designate kosher eateries as establishments that treat their workers with dignity and respect has become a controversial issue, with many of the participating businesses reportedly receiving threats, not accolades for their involvement in the program.

Tav HaYosher, launched three years ago as a free certification, is described as an “ethical seal” indicating that workers receive at least a minimum wage, overtime pay when working more than forty hours per week, a minimum or one day off per week, regular breaks and a safe, sanitary and non-discriminatory workplace. A grass roots program staffed by volunteers who frequent certified restaurants and speak with both owners and workers, it is a project of Uri L’Tzedek a social justice organization that fights prevent suffering and oppression.

But according to reports on the Jewish Journal’s website, there are those who take issue with Uri L’Tzedek, which launched a two month long consumer boycott against the Agriprocessor meat processing plant in Iowa following the massive immigration raid that closed down the plant and sent Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin to jail. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder and president of Uri L’Tzedek who received his rabbinical ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, has been an outspoken voice condemning Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin for labor conditions at the Agriprocessors plant.

According to the report, a threatening email sent by a person identified as Menachem Cohen to establishments bearing the Tav HaYosher designation warned business owners that they faced a potential boycott because of Rabbi Yanklowitz’s involvement in the Rubashkin case, accusing him of making false claims against Rubashkin.

“Until you remove Tav HaYosher, you will find an increasing number of people boycotting your business,” warned Cohen in the email.

“We received a second email from them,” Avi, a manager at The Kosher Experience in Teaneck, New Jersey, told VIN News. “They told us that the boycott will continue until we remove all association with the Tav HaYosher.”

Although Tav HaYosher certifies over 90 restaurants in the United States and Canada, much of the activity against the certification seems to be centered in the Los Angeles area, according to the Jewish Journal, which found that four local restaurants, Mexikosher, Schnitzly, Nut House, and Café of Paris had removed their Tav HaYosher certification because of the threats. Restaurants owners reported getting mixed reviews for their participation in the Tav HaYosher program, with some patrons applauding their decision and others walking out when they saw the certificate.

While it appears that the backlash against the Tav HaYosher seems to be coming from the Chabad community, Rabbi Chaim Cunin, CEO of Chabad California said he had no knowledge of any activity against the Tav HaYosher.


  • 1. We never know all the background wrote:

    What people don’t realize is that Yankelowitz has a personal vendetta against the Rubashkins and has unfortunately been successful beyond his dreams at destroying many lives along the way.

  • 4. Against the Unethical Heksher wrote:

    No one should patronize a restaurant with the the Tav Hayoshor. They acted without ethics when they declared a boycott of Rubashkin without ever being in the plant or seeing firsthand the allegations by the unions. If you know of a restaurant with this so called “Heksher” tell them that unless its is removed you are taking your business elsewhere.

  • 7. Lets Boycott those that hurt Rubashkin wrote:

    Its time to tell those restaurants with this so called “unethical heksher” that we will not support them. These left wing rabbis declared a boycott against Rubashkin, allying themselves with the unions, the conservative rabbis and others. They never saw the plant firsthand, they accepted lies and untruths. This is a list of the restaurants with their endorsement. Tell the owners you will take your business elsewhere.

  • 8. kitchen worker wrote:

    check these articles(sorry for the long URL’s the original pages we not accessible, had to use a proxy site): Addressing Serious Ethical Issues in Public: Misunderstandings …
    “Tav HaYosher (the ethical seal for kosher restaurants) issued by Uri L’Tzedek …. They allied themselves with the unions, liberal rabbis, and St. Bridget’s church ..The Left-Wing Movement to Hijack Kosher Food(…The Rosh Beit Medrash of Uri L’Tzedek, Elisheva Goldberg, is an Anti-Israel activist who works for George Soros’ New America Foundation… Its latest “victory” was won on behalf of the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical leftist union, with ugly views on Israel, against a Jewish company. There is no reason to think that this would trouble Uri L’Tzedek, whose leaders are not known for being too fond of the Jewish State….)
    This is dangerous. They are using the concept of certifying that an establishment meets the halachic standards of kashrus to impose a social agenda. The agenda is leftist but it wouldn’t make any difference if it was something else. A hechsher is for kashrus only. As for violations of law, there are government agencies that should be on top of that.Their self-righteous battle against the Rubashkins shows us that truth of the charges has nothing to do with their agenda. They operate more like unions do. The board is not frum, mostly involved with the conservative movement (or less)(see…). How do they have the temerity to say what the Halacha is? There isn’t any question that workers need to be treated according to law, and that it is entirely possible that an owner can violate halacha in the way he treats his employees, and that the community should know about it.This group gets into ”living wage“ ”sustainability” union organizing and other leftist issues. They have no right to hide behind the mantle of kashrus to advance their goals, and we should not let a non-halachic organization with non-halachic goals anywhere near our establishments. And no, I’ve never owned a food establishment, but I’ve worked in plenty of them. In the Flaum case, the NRLB ruled against them. We don’t need another layer of fake supervision to take credit for what they didn’t do.

  • 9. The Tav??? wrote:

    Why cant store owners put up their own sign saying they practice (what ever state they are located in ) regulations…we pay fare wages etc… and have their employees sign it? what if I don’t want the sign? does that mean my business is not ethical? are they going to petition 2000 people to boycott my business? I dont think you need to threaten store owners but simply explain to them the Un ethical actions the Tav (uri Latzedek) took part in destroying good people! A business who accepts the certificate are potentially setting themselves up to be boycotted by the Tav without having the opportunity to defend their business and family. all it takes is a accusation and they boycott your Business.
    — aside not: what Yanklowitz did againts Rubashkins was wrong. and un ethical. he should use his strength for positive! yanklowitz is a part of a Jewish vegen organization (intent?motive???)

  • 10. Go-ds right hand man wrote:

    Send the tav inspectors on a tour of Hebrew nationals production !
    Hefsed Mroobeh is a division between to many
    Does my go-dly soul like salami, frankfurters, and used clothes !

  • 11. Sinas Chinum in Nine Days wrote:

    I read the comments here and I am struck by the hatred and sinas chinum pouring out of both the author and the comments here. It is for this Sina that is so evident here, it is taught the beis hamikdosh was destroyed. Out of all periods, right before Tisha B’av, to read the hatred spewing from people is not only a great embarrassment, it is also a great chilul hashem. This is not what the Torah teaches. None of you should be proud of your hatred toward any jew. What these people want to do is to invoke revenge and disperse hatred of another jew. No reason can justify this. In the nine days, one would think that people would be more conscious about asking in this way. It seems not. Shame.

  • 12. Milhouse wrote:

    I agree, this “tav hayosher” is involved with the communist “occupy” movement, and money from the hechsher goes towards that. Why do you think stores to pay for their “hechsher”? It’s because they’re afraid of a boycott by these half-frum and non-frum people. So we should have a counter-boycott, letting the stores know that they may gain those people’s business but by doing so they lose ours.

    This Yanklovich person in particular, I have doubts about the sincerity of his giyur. The Rambam says “chosehshin lohen”, and I have great “chesashim” in his case.


    these restaurants are on the list

    Cheese D Lox – 5220 New Utrecht Avenue, #1, Brooklyn, NY 11219 – 347.461.6059

    Pitopia – 1369 Broadway, New York, NY 10018 (212) 792-6765

    Dovid’s Kosher Food Stand – 27 William St (Beaver St & Exchange Pl) – 212.248.9008

  • 14. Answer to 10 wrote:

    Sinas chinam really? How bout pkiuach nefesh. The tav destroyed Rubashkin and will do so to other inocent Jews yes innocent. They are dangerous and malicious, dedicated to destroyong halachik establishment as were the misyavnim and many others in our history Dont holy roller about sinas chinam to these apikorsim

  • 16. Aaron wrote:

    Does anyone really believe that Agriprocessors treated their workers justly? Is there any doubt about the horrible working conditions, the cruelty to animals, the total disregard of safety? So go ahead and boycott. Threaten. It is time that kosher means more than just being overpriced!

  • 17. Be Vocal wrote:

    I believe that this ‘hechsher’ is associated with the Conservative movement.
    It is a dangerous precedent to be establishing another ‘hechsher’ and should be rebuffed at all costs.
    Don’t just boycott – tell the store’s proprietor / manager that you refuse to eat with such ‘certification’. More business will be lost than will be attracted with this imposition. Kosher restaurants are supported by those who care about the kashruth of the establishment, not whether the spoons they are using were manufactured in a stress-free environment.
    If we allow this ‘hechsher’ to flourish, it will become the new standard for kashruth r’l.

  • 18. To # 10 wrote:

    You have good intentions, but it is not sinas chinom to stand up to something that is wrong. Aderabah, we are obligated to protest bad behaviour.

  • 19. DaasTorah wrote:

    Why would anyone boycott an establishment that treats workers according to halacha? Menachem Cohen is making sinas chinom during the 9 days. Oy!

  • 23. Shlomo wrote:

    I’m confused. I do not see anywhere on the website that talks about a Hashgocheh. In fact they seem they are just giving an award for those kosher restaurants which comply with basic Hilchos Poalim which anyway would know if they had ever learned Meseches Bava Metzia.

  • 24. Elizabeth wrote:

    Uri L’tzedek reached out to the Rubashkins to try to help them get out of the mess they were in. So please don’t accuse them of sinas chinam-aderabah this organization is meant to be a kiddush Hashem. The tav has nothing to do with Rubashkins and everything to do with ensuring that Jews follow hilchos poalim. It doesn’t help Rubashkin’s case when you use his name to attack Jews who support ethics!

  • 25. Treating workers ethically is halacha wrote:

    Whatever one’s opinion about uri l’tzedek is, the tav hayosher is just a system that promotes ethical treatment and following the law, which is in dvarim, vayikra, bava metzia and all over. They’re an organization trying to bring tzedek chevrati and halacha to orthodoxy; what’s the problem with that? Be careful of lshon hara on other Jews.

  • 26. Aviva wrote:

    The Tav Hayosher is NOT A HECHSHER, it is AN ETHICAL SEAL. Torah values demand that workers be treated with dignity and respect. Anyone who boycotts a Tav Restaurant is condemning people who treat their workers ethically, and is creating a huge chillul Hashem.

  • 27. Sara wrote:

    I proudly support the Tav HaYosher restaurants that provide workers with fair pay, fair time and a safe work environment. They certainly follow my Torah values and I am happy to patronize these restaurants that uphold such values.

  • 28. Ben G. wrote:

    “I proudly support the Tav HaYosher restaurants that provide workers with fair pay, fair time and a safe work environment. They certainly follow my Torah values and I am happy to patronize these restaurants that uphold such values.”


  • 29. Blanco wrote:

    I have personal experience with the Tav and all I can say is that it is a much needed program. Uri L’Tzedek stands up for the basic rights of workers who are often abused. I proudly support restaurants that provide workers with fair pay, fair time and a safe work environment. They follow Torah values and I am happy to patronize these restaurants that uphold such values.

  • 30. yaakov mendel wrote:

    I don’t get why people wouldn’t like the Tav hayosher….when i walk into a restaurant, I’d like to know my food was prepared by a worker that was treated right, not by exploited people. It’s basic halacha and dina dmalchuta dina.
    Does anyone really think Rubashkin didn’t break the law? I dont know if his sentence was disproportionate or anything but that’s no reason to stop this good work from being done now. the tav is a good thing!

  • 31. Rachel wrote:

    for how ever much you guys dont spend at the Tav restaurants i’ll make sure me and my friends make up for it. The seal lets you know where you are eating is legal! why would that be a problem?!

  • 32. Not a communist wrote:

    Just to be clear – the Tav HaYosher is FREE. It is a service to the community, the restaurant and the workers. There is no fee so it obviously doesn’t go to Occupy anything.

  • 34. Milhouse wrote:

    Wow, look at the influx of people who I very much doubt keep cholov yisroel, or can learn a siman in shulchan aruch, but think they know what Torah wants. I like #25, who instead of using a phrase like “social justice” that we will instantly recognise as socialist propaganda, tries to sneak it past us by translating it into Hebrew, as if we are supposed to think that “tzedek chevrati” is a real term, and something good.

    #23 and #24 reference hilchos poalim, as if they have ever learned it or know what it requires. Yanklovich certainly doesn’t. This “tav” doesn’t require compliance with hilchos poalim, or even recognise its authority; instead it requires compliance with the dictates of the NLRB, the unions, and the other thugs and bullies that make up the “social justice” movement. The Torah does not require any of those things, but these people don’t really care about the Torah anyway, they’re just using it as a weapon to spread their true religion, socialism.

    Here’s an easy test to see what their real agenda is: suppose you found out that a yiddisher employer was giving preference in hiring or promotion to his fellow yidden, or paying them more. Would you condemn this and report it to the authorities as illegal discrimination, or give him a yasher koach for doing what the Torah requires of him? I will guarantee you that all these commenters, together with their leader Yanklovich, do not believe that there is a difference bein yisroel lo’amim, and think it is wrong to discriminate in favour of our own people. They do not believe in the mitzvah of ahavas yisroel, and in fact consider it wrong and racist; they think “ve’ohavto lere’acho komocho” refers to all people.

    Here’s another test: ask them whether the Israeli army should risk soldiers’ lives in order to save Arab civilians. They will definitely say yes. Ask them whether residents of Jewish yishuvim in the “territories” are stealing Arab land. Ask them whether those residents are right to destroy the olive trees that Arabs use as cover for attacks, or that the Arabs plant in order to stake a claim to the land.

    Ask them whether they agree with the din in Shulchon Oruch that one may not sell a house in a yiddisher neighbourhood to a nochri who will harm the neighbours. Ask them about the Rebbe’s explicit application of this din to Crown Heights in the late ’60s and early ’70s. See what they have to say about the Rebbe then. And then judge whether they’re really concerned about the Torah or about socialism.

  • 35. another ben g wrote:

    “I proudly support the Tav HaYosher restaurants that provide workers with fair pay, fair time and a safe work environment. They certainly follow my Torah values and I am happy to patronize these restaurants that uphold such values.”



  • 36. My Issue wrote:

    The reason why I would do anything to stop this hechsher is because I think of it as “Ba’al Tosif” which ultimately leads to taking away from Torah.

    By making this bogus hechsher (for concerns which are already handled by the US employment laws) It will pave the path for the first large seriously unreliable hechsher and will destroy kashrus as we know it.

  • 37. Anon wrote:

    I support restaurants that have the Tav HaYosher because workers’ rights to fair pay and fair treatment derive from the Torah.

  • 38. MB wrote:

    I agree 100% with #33, there is already a “Tav hayoser’, it’s called the Labor Board, if a restaurant doesnt comply, the workers report them

  • 39. Milhouse wrote:

    #38, that would be mesirah. The NLRB is a group of thugs, it cares nothing at all about justice, let alone the Torah, and there is no halachic requirement to obey its dictates.

  • 40. CR wrote:

    That the Tav HaYosher answer to federal and state laws and regulations rather than particular halachos of po’alim does undermine claims of assuring “ethical kashrus”. That said, all I see here is an organization pursuing mistaken objectives. They do so enthusiatically and with good intentions but there is nothing inherently “kosher” about doing so. To their credit, they do not call themselves a hechsher so that ambiguity is not an issue. All told, I am having a hard time getting so upset about what they are doing that I would intentionally deprive another Jew of business!


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