The Chief Rabbinate has called on all the bodies that issue kashrut certificates in Israel to refrain from purchasing fruits and vegetables from Palestinian farmers during the next year, which is set to be Sabbatical year (shnat shmita), for fear the proceeds will be used for funding terror.
According to the Torah, during the shmita year farm-land in the Land of Israel has to remain uncultivated
During a sabbatical year, many haredi kashrut organizations prefer to buy produce from non-Jews, in order to make sure that Jewish law has not been violated.
The Shmita Committee at the Chief Rabbinate also stated that due to the security situation, kashrut supervision in the territories has become almost impossible, especially because of the great danger faced by kashrut supervisors in the PA.
Shmita and Zionist religious JewsMeanwhile, some in the religious-Zionist public are seeking ways to enable buying crops from Jews during the Sabbatical year, and refraining from purchasing crops from non-Jews.
The Torah and Land Institute, which used to operate in Gush Katif up until the disengagement, has set up a system called Otzar Haaretz (treasure of the land), which offers kosher marketing of fruits and vegetables during a shnat shmita.
Driven by Zionist motives and founded on agrotechnical innovations, the new system aims to strengthen Jewish cultivation of land in Israel, contrary to the strictly Orthodox kashrut committees, which approve only the purchasing of produce from non-Jews during the fallow year.
Otzar Haaretz plans to provide fruits and vegetables from sources such as: Vegetables grown during the sixth year whose shelf-life has been prolonged; vegetables from the Arava, etc.
Many prominent rabbis have given their blessing to this move, including former chief rabbis Avraham Shapira and Mordechai Eliyahu.