Daily Israel Report

Consumers Warned of Forged "Kosher" Matzahs

Israel's Chief Rabbinate announces: Two widely-distributed matzah types are not Kosher for Passover, and their kosher certifications are forged.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/25/2010, 3:20 PM / Last Update: 3/25/2010, 3:06 PM

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has discovered that two widely-distributed matzah types and one less known one are actually not Kosher for Passover, and that their kosher certifications are forged.

In a letter to local rabbis, kashrut supervisors and Municipal Religious Councils around the country, the Chief Rabbinate includes photos of the two box-types whose matzahs are actually not fit for Passover consumption. Another letter mentions the third.

The letter explains that on March 22, the police raided a warehouse in Be’er Tuviah, just north of Ashkelon, and confiscated a “very large amount” of hand-made matzahs. Usually round and extra chewy, hand matzahs are very popular for the Seder night, and are widely considered (even if not accurately) “more kosher” than machine matzahs.

Some of the confiscated matzahs were not yet packed, while others were already packed in boxes bearing the kosher certifications of Kiryat Arba/Hevron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, Be’er Tuvia Rabbi Yitzchak Amrabi, and two Badatz rabbinical courts.  The third forgery is Rav Hendel's kosher certification.

Rabbis: We Gave No Certification
However, the letter states, representatives of the above rabbis and courts were invited to see the confiscated boxes and said they did not issue such certifications this year. “There is therefore a very large concern that the matzahs are made of non-sifted flour and/or non-Pesach flour, that challah was not separated as required, and [other problems] – above and beyond that they must be considered absolute hametz!”

“Since these matzas have been sold throughout Israel," the letter continues, "including some of them for surprisingly ‘lowered’ prices and the like, and many were distributed by charity organizations... all rabbis and synagogue sextons are obligated to ensure that this letter is posted in synagogues and other public centers, in order to make sure that the public does not accidentally eat hametz in the middle of the Passover seder this year.”

The Rabbinate’s letter states that in order not to cause confusion and to cause suspicion to be raised regarding kosher matzahs, “we have seen fit to publicize the details and photos of the non-kosher matzahs. Please do not disqualify matzahs other than these found in Be’er Tuviah.”

Matzah Shortage Feared
The news comes together with warnings that there is liable to be a shortage of machine matzahs for Passover this year. The main reason is the relocation of a major production line, causing a delay of nearly a month. In addition, because flour begins to ferment and become hametz – forbidden for consumption on Passover – when it becomes wet [unless baked within 18 minutes], the Rabbinate does not allow flour to be transported to bakeries on rainy days. There were relatively many such days this year, causing yet further delays.

In addition, the Associated Press reported on a “fire in a matza bakery” as adding to the problem – but the said fire, which occurred in Kfar Chabad, happened more than three months ago.