Georgia rabbi sues over kashrut law

A Conservative rabbi in Georgia is challenging the constitutionality of his state’s kashrut law, saying it favors Orthodox religious standards and constitutes state entanglement in religion.

On Aug. 7, Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta filed a lawsuit claiming that Georgia’s Kosher Food Labeling Act, passed in 1980, prevents him from fulfilling his duties as a rabbi.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is handling the case, claims that Georgia’s kosher law, which defines “kosher food” as “food prepared under and of products sanctioned by the Orthodox Hebrew religious rules and requirements,” ignores kosher standards of other streams of Judaism.

Lewis says the law prevents him from exercising his faith when he seeks to certify kosher foods, and is a violation of church-state separation. — jta