Israel’s Chief Rabbi Backs Down On Christmas Tree Ban In Hotels

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has backed down on its long-standing prohibition against placing Christmas trees in the country’s hotels, as well as other rules related to the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.

The Chief Rabbinate’s new regulations came in response to a petition from Hiddush — Freedom of Religion for Israel, a nongovernmental organization that fights religious coercion. The group filed the petition with Israel’s attorney general and the Ministry of Religious Services.

The former regulations stated that hotels that included “references to gentile holidays” would lose their kosher food licenses, a step that would make it impossible for observant Jews to stay at the hotels.

The regulations also stated that events taking place on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays must comply with strict Jewish law. That meant a ban on filming, shooting photographs, playing music or offering laundry and ironing services. In addition, any exchange of money would have to be given “covertly” to “gentile cashiers.”

Hiddush argued that the Chief Rabbinate, the sole arbiter of Jewish law in Israel, was overstepping its authority by linking kosher certification to other rules that have no bearing on whether food is kosher.

“The importance of our victory is twofold,” said Rabbi Uri Regev, president and CEO of Hiddush.

“First, it will finally give the numerous Jewish and non-Jewish groups that visit Israel the freedom and respect which has been denied them by the Rabbinate’s extortionist demands. And second, it is an important lesson in the development of the rule of law in Israel, which emphasizes that the Chief Rabbinate is bound by Israeli law and is not above it.”

(RNS)

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7 thoughts on “Israel’s Chief Rabbi Backs Down On Christmas Tree Ban In Hotels

  1. Allowing Christmas trees should not be seen as a victory for Christians. Romans used evergreens to decorate their homes during the winter festival of Saturnalia, which honored Saturn, the god of farming. We know God is a jealous God so following the practice of people who used to worship planets and trees would not be the wisest thing to do.

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  2. Hiddush (Hebrew: חִדּוּשׁ) meaning innovation, renewal, full name “Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality”, is a trans-denominational nonprofit organization founded in 2009 which is aimed at promoting religious freedom and equality in Israel.

    How successful will this be, when Zionists are politically in power? “It is an important lesson in the development of the rule of law in Israel, which emphasizes that the Chief Rabbinate is bound by Israeli law and is not above it.” But how much law of the land is made by the Government?

    Most office holders of the Ministry of Religion have been religious Jews, though some were secular. Haim Yosef Zadok, a secular Jew, served twice, in 1974 and 1977.[2] During his short stints, Zadok worked to streamline the operation of the rabbinical courts and strengthen relations with the religious leaders of all faiths.[3] Zerach Warhaftig was the longest serving minister, holding the post for over 12 years between 1961 and 1974.

    In Benjamin Netanyahu’s government the portfolio changed hands six times, with four people holding the post (Netanyahu three times and Eli Suissa twice).

    May be the public antipathy to the Zionist policies is having an effect since there are to be early Israeli legislative elections this month!

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  3. Pingback: Unseasonal but welcome cheer….say it with fir trees | Let me tell U a story

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