The 'shtreimel' battle

Bill that would affect

The shtreimel, or traditional fur hat, preferred by hassidic movements originating in Galicia, Hungary and Romania, might become a difficult item to obtain if animal rights activists have their way. Haredi legislators aggressively attacked a bill proposed by MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) and backed by animal rights groups that would prohibit the import of animal furs from the Far East, including China. The animal rights activists are concerned that countries in the Far East are unnecessarily cruel to the animals. However, United Torah Judaism MK Menahem Eliezer Moses opposed the bill, which came up for discussion in the Knesset Education Committee. Moses argued that the proposed legislation would hurt haredim who had a custom of wearing the fur hats on Shabbat and holidays. "We will never change our traditional dress as a result of this law," said Moses in a press release. "There is no doubt that cruelty to animals is prohibited by the Torah. But throughout the generations Jews wore shtreimels," Moses said. Shas MK Haim Amsalem said Jewish law permitted causing pain to animals if there were a human need, as long as unnecessary pain was avoided. Due to Moses's and Amsalem's opposition, as well the opposition of the Agriculture Ministry for economic reasons, the vote on the bill was postponed.