One of the UK's most prominent Jewish religious authorities has banned the consumption of strawberries, generating confusion among the British Jewish community.
Until last week eating the fruits was considered acceptable by all sections of the Jewish community.
However, after a spot check was held by kosher experts from the ultra-orthodox Keddasia Beth Din, the religious tribunal proclaimed that strawberries contain hidden bugs and are therefore to be considered un-kosher until a new cleaning method is found.
An emergency alert was released proclaiming that even with extensive checks and washing, the berries are not to be eaten.
It read: “Until now, the method of washing strawberries thoroughly in soapy water in order to remove any insects was considered halachically (by Jewish religious law) sufficient. However, recent tests have proven that even after this rigorous procedure, insects are still present.
“Until this problem is solved therefore, fresh strawberries should not be eaten.”
A spokesman Keddasia told EJP the organization has spent the last week trying out new methods of cleaning in an effort to lift the ban.
“If you peel the strawberry like a potato then of course it is okay to eat but we want to find a method that is somewhat less drastic,” he said.
“For hundreds of years we have known strawberries contain tiny bugs but we always thought the way we cleaned them was fine. Now we need to find a new method.”
Keddasia is run by the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, the most prominent ultra-orthodox organization in the UK.
Other religious authorities are however refusing to agree with the Kedassia warning.
Sources within both the London and Federation Beth Dins said their rabbis are allowing people to continue to eat strawberries, as long as they are carefully checked and washed.
The conflict between the various rabbinical leaders has caused confusion amongst religious Jews in the UK.
North-west London resident Rochelle Belmont told EJP: “Until last week I never even knew there was an issue with strawberries. Now I and my friends have been very careful not to eat them but it is all a little confusing.
“I know some other people who don’t think there is a problem and I’m not sure what to do about it.”
-Published by arrangement with European Jewish Press , a pan-European news agency based in Belgium