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The Israeli Rabbinate Tries To Cancel Christmas

Hotels and restaurants may lose certification for X-mas and New Year’s events

Adam Chandler
December 26, 2012

Today on Tablet, we’ve got a report from the irrepressible Yair Rosenberg about the unlikely alliance working to strip the ultra-Orthodox Israeli rabbinate of its power.

The alliance led in part by Avigdor Lieberman views the rabbinate as too domineering and wielding too much power over the lives of Israelis. Over at the Times, Shmuel Rosner has this story, which only exemplifies the struggle:

Last week, Jewish religious authorities in Haifa issued a warning that establishments holding Christmas and New Year’s celebrations would lose so-called kashrut supervision. Many Israelis won’t eat in a place where food is not certified to have been prepared according to Jewish dietary laws.

“New Year’s celebrations must not be held at the end of the civil calendar,” the Haifa rabbinate said in a letter to local hotels and restaurants. “It will not be possible to continue our supervision for anyone who infringes our instruction.”

In the eyes of the rabbinate, the celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s amount to idol worship. It’s a good thing they don’t get American commercials over there.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.