Israel's Chief Rabbinate is warning Israeli citizens to be on the lookout for pirate matzah and Jews are worried, a merchant said Wednesday.
Several days before the start of the holiday of Passover, police raided a warehouse containing a seven-ton stockpile of matzah with fake kosher certificates, according to a statement from the rabbinate.
"I can't believe that someone would do something like that," said Roy Wolf, manager of a leading matzah factory in Israel, after receiving calls from concerned customers.
Matzah is the flat, unleavened bread Jews eat during the weeklong holiday instead of regular bread. Matzah is made of flour and water and must be baked according to strict religious instructions, under supervision of a rabbi, to ensure that it does not rise like bread.
The unleavened bread is a main feature of the weeklong Passover holiday, commemorating the biblical exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The Bible says the fleeing people did not have time to bake ordinary bread, making do with flat, unleavened bread instead.
The rabbinate published color photos of the fake matzah packages ordering local rabbis to post the statement in synagogues and other prominent places to warn Orthodox Jews to avoid the faked product.
'Affair undermines customer's trust'
The rabbinate suspects that non-kosher flour was used to make the matzah. Eating such matzah on Passover would be the same, religiously, as eating bread.
Wolf said Wednesday that the affair "undermines the customer's trust. In Judaism, eating (leavened products) is considered a very serious prohibition. It's good that this was discovered."
Though only about a quarter of Israel's Jews are Orthodox, most do not eat bread during Passover, and about 80% conduct the traditional festive meal on the first night of the holiday, according to surveys.
Adding to the tensions over matzah was a report Tuesday on an Israeli TV station, predicting a shortage of the Passover staple during the holiday. Channel 10 TV said a fire in one of the matzah factories has cut production. The report showed one of the factories churning out boxes of matzah at full speed.
The manager told Channel 10 they were working "24 hours a day, six days a week." Orthodox Jews strictly ban working on the Jewish Shabbat.