The local rabbinate in Haifa issued a warning last week to hotels and event
halls in the city that they risk losing their kashrut supervision if they allow
New Year’s Eve celebrations to take place in their
“Following up from our previous notice, we have clearly
stated that New Year’s celebrations must not be held at the end of the civil
calendar,” the letter from the Haifa Rabbinate read.
“It will not be
possible to continue our supervision for anyone who infringes our instruction,”
the letter concluded, adding that “good blessing” would come upon all who adhere
to the directive.
Despite the letter however, director of the Haifa
Rabbinate Rabbi Avraham Weizman told Channel 2 News on Sunday that no business
that does host such a party would have their kashrut certification
Secular activists and politicians reacted angrily towards the
letter, and denounced the directive.
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said that
the notice was “scandalous extortion of business owners who are already bent
under the burden of payments to the rabbinate.”
“Once again the world of
intrigue, financial extortion, and religious coercion has been exposed, which is
controlled by the extensive monopoly known as the ‘Chief Rabbinate,’” he
In its response, the Chief Rabbinate said if a situation arises in
which one of its kashrut supervisors would be unable to be present at an
establishment with a kashrut certificate, that business cannot be
The statement said that according to Jewish law, “it is
forbidden for a Jew to be present in a place where ‘idol worship’ is being
conducted,” such as the rituals of other religions.
“New Year’s parties
are not just folkish, they create a prohibition [not to be present at such
events],” the chief rabbinate said, and added that it would issue a directive
this week outlining what is and is not considered prohibited according to Jewish
law for such events.