For a fee, a new institute will offer rabbinic workplace consulting and a compliance certificate

Business owners who subscribe to the Avoda Kahalacha service will receive a “Certificate of Responsibility” to demonstrate compliance with the strictest modesty guidelines

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Mar 1, 2024 3:00 PM


A diverse group of Haredi rabbis has given its support for a new institute to provide guidance on halachic workplace issues, according to an article in the Hasidic newspaper Der Blatt

For years, business owners could subscribe to the Da’ehu daily halacha email newsletter, which has nearly 18,000 business subscribers, Der Blatt said. Now, a new organization, Avoda Kahalacha, will bring about a “revolution” in Haredi workplaces by joining forces with Da’ehu, which is overseen by Rabbi Mechel Steinmetz, the Skverer dayan of Borough Park, to offer personalized guidance to business owners on all halachic workplace matters. 

The service is offered under the auspices of both Hasidic and non-Hasidic Haredi rabbis, including dayanim from Satmar, Skver, Vizhnitz, Belz, as well as roshei yeshiva from Lakewood and Philadelphia.

“Institute Avoda Kahalacha hears the cry of agony,” a sub-headline reads in Der Blatt

The most pressing issues, the Blatt notes, involve the intricacies of yichud laws, the rules for when an unrelated man and woman may be together alone in a space, a complex subject for which rabbinic expertise is often required for unique circumstances. Rabbinic guidance will also be offered on general issues of inter-gender workplace practices, for compliance with the strictest modesty standards. 

The new service is being offered at two levels. The “Regular” level requires an annual fee, and will provide an annual rabbinic inspection of the business premises and the ability to call the institute’s rabbinic consultants for any questions throughout the year. “First Class” level requires a monthly fee, and allows for rabbis to visit the offices regularly in order to help resolve any halachic issues that may arise throughout the year. Businesses subscribing to either service level will receive a “Certificate of Responsibility,” to demonstrate full compliance with religious requirements.

“A dayan comes down to your office!” a sub-headline reads in Der Blatt near a photo of a conference room at Avoda Kahalacha

Der Blatt said the new service was necessary because an email newsletter can’t fully account for the complexities of all workplace situations. While the Da’ehu email newsletter has “brought about fundamental changes in the approach to Jewish office spaces,” the newspaper said, “it was clear that further steps were necessary to complete the [halachic workspace] revolution.”

Workplaces have long faced scrutiny from Hasidic leaders. In at least one Hasidic village, Kiryas Joel, rabbinic regulations single out workplaces as requiring extra caution for when male and female co-workers share a space. An article in the Kiryas Joel newspaper Heimshtut also announced a phone line inviting callers to report on any workplaces that do not sufficiently conform to the strictest modesty guidelines.

In recent years, the range of rabbinic certifications available has expanded dramatically. While certifications for kosher food have long been common, certification can now be had for phones, MP3 players, children’s clothing, in addition to workplace supervision.

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