Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) and Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) arrived on Thursday afternoon to the office of the Chief Rabbis of Israel, where they held a ceremony selling the chametz (leavened foods) of the state of Israel ahead of Passover.
The ceremony, held a day before the holiday which begins Friday night, was overseen by Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and also in attendance was Gaber Hussein of Abu Gosh, a gentile who purchased the chametz of the state.
In the first part of the ceremony Kahlon gave a bill of authorization to the Chief Rabbis, giving them the authority to sell the chametz on behalf of the state.
Then the Chief Rabbis sold the chametz in the name of the state to Gaber Hussein, who for his part gave a down payment of a sum agreed upon in advance.
The custom of selling chametz allows Jews to fulfill the religious obligations of the holiday and not have chametz in their possession while at the same time not taking a critical financial loss. The sale contract stipulates that if the purchaser does not pay the balance by the end of Passover the ownership reverts back to the original owner, in a scenario that is agreed upon by both sides.