old city lit up 29888.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Chief Rabbinate
is asking the Jerusalem Municipality that an upcoming food festival in
the Old City include only kosher booths so the public will not be misled
into desecrating Jewish dietary laws.
Between March 27 and 31,
the “Jerusalem Old City flavors festival” festival (organized by the Ariel
company), will introduce visitors to local eateries in the Jewish,
Muslim and Christian quarters.
Culinary tours leading hungry
diners to different restaurants and booths – kosher and otherwise – are
also taking part in the event.
In response, head of the
rabbinate’s kashrut division, Rabbi Ya’acov Sabag, sent Jerusalem Mayor
Nir Barkat a letter last week protesting that an event including
un-kosher eateries is taking part under the auspices of the city.
city of Jerusalem – beyond its historic sanctity – serves as a
metropolis for tourists from all around the world,” Sabag wrote. “We
respectfully ask that only kosher food stands would be included in this
project, for the benefit of the public – and preventing the misguidance
of the public.”
Two weeks before Sabag’s letter, Jewish Quarter
Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl wrote to protest the matter before Shlomo
Attias, director-general of the Company for the Reconstruction and
Development of the Jewish Quarter.
Signatories included prominent
national religious rabbis, such as head of the Har Hamor Yeshiva, Rabbi
Tzvi Tao, and haredi rabbis – including some of senior Ashkenazi
adjudicator Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv’s sons.
On Wednesday the municipality formally responded to the protests.
“The festival is based on local restaurants – whose character naturally
derives from their physical location,” its statement read. “The festival
and food fairs appeal to a variety of populations and tourists, and
will accordingly enable a varied choice.”
The municipality noted that the kashrut of the food would be noted for visitors.
While Sabag said a representative of the city told him they would
“minimize damages” by clearly marking the un-kosher food stands, he said
he has not received an official answer from the mayor.
“Needless to say, the Chief Rabbinate does not usually try to impose
kashrut supervision over businesses that do not seek it, but it is
fitting that this event – sponsored by the Jerusalem municipality in
this holy area – will take place in a manner respectful to Jewish law
and retaining the city's status quo,” Sabag said.
The Talmud says the calamities of Purim befell the Jews since they took
part “in the feast of that evil man” Ahasuerus, he continued. “And now
they’re going to feed the people of Israel non-kosher meat.”