Is it misleading for a food market to suggest in its advertising that "rabbis shop" there when the store’s products arenít even kosher?
A New York judge will be asked to decide that question after an Orthodox Jew, David Richmond of Manhattan, filed suit against the Garden of Eden Gourmet alleging that starting on April 3,the store placed advertisements which read: "Do you know where rabbis shop? Passover to the Garden of Eden and find out why."
Not only were the products not kosher for Passover, they weren’t kosher at all, according to the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Richmond’s lawyer, former state Sen. Paul Bookson, said although state law specifically limits the use of the word "kosher" to products that are under rabbinic supervision, the law does not cover the use of the word "rabbi." Nevertheless, he said it is "misleading" to use the word in connection with a store’s products.
The suit said the public could be misled into believing that if rabbis shopped there, they must have "approved [of] such goods as ‘kosher.’" It said the ads "create profound damage to Orthodox Jews … because it induced and continues to induce Orthodox Jews unknowingly to violate basic religious vows."
Bookson, who said he helped write some of the state’s kosher laws, said additional legislation might be needed to stop what he called a deceptive practice. In the meantime, he is seeking an injunction to stop the Garden of Eden Gourmet from any further such advertising. Garden of Eden operates three supermarkets in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. No court date has been scheduled.
Calls to Garden of Eden were not returned.