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The Schmooze

‘Kosher’ Clothing Crackdown in Jerusalem

In another sign that the Holy City is also the holier-than-thou one, Jerusalem’s chief rabbinate is going to begin a kashrut certification program for clothing stores.

According to the Srugim website (the portal for Israeli news from the national religious perspective — not for the popular Israeli television series of the same name), this has nothing to do with people eating while clothes shopping. Rather, it is a way to allow consumers to rest assured that they are not buying items containing shatnez (the biblically forbidden mixture of wool and linen).

Rabbi Eliyahu Schlesinger, the rabbi for the Gilo neighborhood and the rabbinic judge on kashrut matters for the city’s religious council, said in a radio interview, “All we are asking is that a Jew who goes into a store to buy an item of clothing — whether it is for him, his wife or his children — I want him to ask for a certificate of kashrut.”

“Just as a person would not enter a restaurant without seeing its kashrut certificate, I would not want him to enter a clothing or suit store without seeing a kashrut certificate, or at least one for the companies that manufacture the clothing being sold in it,” he went on further.

Schlesinger claims that the shatnez problem arises from the fact that so many items are imported from countries like China, Turkey and Egypt. He added that even Israeli manufacturers are not to be trusted. “There are importers or manufacturers who print labels saying ‘free from shatnez’ and attach them to the clothes — but there is no body standing behind this,” he explained. He claims that testing has found plenty of shatnez everywhere.

The rabbi is concerned for all the people he says are walking around unknowingly in clothing containing shatnez. “The Rabbis [of the Talmud] tell us that the prayers of someone who wears shatnez are not accepted,” he warned.

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