Israelis get kosher cigarettes for Passover

By TIA GOLDENBERG and DANIEL ESTRIN Modified: March 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm •  Published: March 26, 2013
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This is the first time, however, that cigarettes in Israel are carrying such a label for the holiday.

Ben Ezra, the kosher supervisor, said the local cigarette company, Dubek contacted him to help settle the kosher debate.

After an inspection of the company's factory a month ago, he concluded that Noblesse, Time and Golf cigarettes could be deemed kosher for smoking on Passover — as long as the factory used ingredients that had not come in contact with leavened products. He would not specify those ingredients, saying he was sworn to secrecy.

Ben Ezra said he himself quit smoking eight months ago but used to smoke during Passover even without such a thing as “kosher cigarettes.”

Maor, the spokesman for Israel's chief rabbis who oversee kosher supervision of foods, said they do not approve of labeling cigarettes as kosher and permitted for Passover, but were unable to prevent it because they only regulate the food market.

“There are some communities who consider it important that everything they bring home has a kosher stamp on it,” said Maor.

Cigarettes have not been alone in the debate over what's kosher for Passover.

In the 1990s, some particularly devout officials asked the national water authority to stop pumping water on Passover from the country's sole freshwater lake, the Sea of Galilee. They were concerned that Jews could break Passover rules by drinking tap water possibly “contaminated” by fishermen who may have thrown grain-based fish food into the lake or picnicking Israelis who may have tossed breadcrumbs into it.

As a result, Israel's water authority began plugging the pipe from the Sea of Galilee three days before Passover and pumping water from underground aquifers and water reservoirs instead — though most rabbis, even from the strictest streams of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, say this is unnecessary.

“No one feels the difference,” said Uri Schor, spokesman of the water authority. “Whenever you open the faucet, you have water.”

Hours ahead of Passover, many Israelis were finishing cleaning their homes Monday of every last bread crumb, feverishly cooking and swarming supermarkets to stock up on food for the Seder, the traditional Passover meal.

In Jerusalem, smoke filled the air as some religious Jews burned the last of their bread crumbs while others dunked their plates in large vats of hot water set up around the city, so their dishes would be completely free of bread products.

The airport was busier than usual with travelers taking advantage of the holiday to travel abroad, and local TV stations gave Israelis advice on avoiding traffic jams when driving to their relatives for the Seder.

The military announced a two-day closure on the West Bank to keep Palestinians out of Israel at the start of the holiday, with exemptions for medical emergencies and other humanitarian reasons. The army imposes such security closures during Jewish and Israeli holidays.



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