Monday, May 14, 2012

Israel's chief rabbis sell leavened bread to Muslim

As reported by Ynet News, April 2, 2012:

Friday night marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The week-long holiday commemorates the Biblical exodus from Egypt. In light of the upcoming holiday, Israel will see one of the largest trade deals the country has ever known.

For the past 15 years, Jaaber Hussein, a Muslim Arab-Israeli, has been purchasing all of the state's chametz (leavened bread) as part of an agreement with Israel's chief rabbis.

This symbolic deal enables the state to honor religious decrees without wastefully destroying massive quantities of food. The deal is estimated at $150 billion. The chametz is acquired from state companies, the prison service and the national stock of emergency supplies.

Hussein, a department head at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem will entrust the State of Israel with a NIS 100,000 (approximately $26,955) check, making him the "king of chametz."

Hussein explained that his annual meeting with Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to execute the deal "a great honor."

"I get telephone calls from people in the territories and in east Jerusalem, asking me to help them, to please give them some of my bread to eat," he told Israel Radio. "I have to explain that I 'own' it but it's not here with me in my house."

The Jewish law allows the sale of chametz to a non-Jew, who's the technical owner of the household for the duration of the holiday, after which it's bought back. In practice, the congregation appoints their rabbi as an agent who sells the communal chametz to a trusted non-Jew.

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