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Offbeat Israel: Blessings for Pensions

In this financial climate, investments are pretty unpredictable. In fact, one could say — God knows what is a safe investment. So why not get God on your side?

That is exactly what the Harel Group, Israel’s largest investment and insurance company, has attempted to do. Earlier this month, Haredi media report, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, Israel’s most influential authority on religious law, gave his blessing to an investment track in the Harel Gilad pension fund.

This followed an endorsement of the track by the Oversight Committee for Financial Investments of the Haredi umbrella organization the Eida Haredit. What, you may ask, does this endorsement mean? That investments don’t go to non-kosher firms? Well, kind of.

The Eida Hareidit, and much of the Haredi world, is concerned that general investments are problematic. This is because many Israeli corporations operate on Sabbath. They deem this a cause for concern both halachically, considering investment in a company to make one complicit in its activities, and difficult from a political point of view. The Eida Hareidit has been busy fighting against Intel’s Sabbath operations, and its leaders do not want to be accused on inconsistency by lambasting Sabbath transgressing firms on one hand but investing in them on the other.

The solution: This investment track only puts funds in to Sabbath-observant companies.

Eliyashiv received Yossi Dotan, vice president of long-term savings at the Harel Group, and Motti Levy, vice president of Harel Gilad, at his home and gave them and the product his blessing.

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