Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

September 25 , 2007 Zionist Rabbis Fight Back Against Haredim

This year is a year of Shmita in Israel.  Under the laws of Shmita, land owned by Jewish people needs to lay fallow during the seventh year.  Since the beginning of Zionism, the Rabbis of Israel have managed to work around the problem of Shmita by selling the land to a non-Jew, similar to the way Chametz is sold on Passover.  Over the last few years the Haredi non Zionist Jews have managed to gain control of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. 
This year the Chief Rabbinate refused to agree to the arrangement introduced by the first Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Kook.  Instead, they have insisted that all the vegetables used in the country be imported.  Further, they have stated that they would remove the Kashruth certificate from any restaurant or store that uses vegetables from Israel.  This has caused major controversies in Israel.  Today, in a courageous move, a group of Rabbis called Tzohar announced that they would give Kashrut certificates to any establishment denied by the Chief Rabbinate for reasons of Shmita. 
Tzohar is not a fringe group of Rabbis; instead the group represents the mainstream of Zionist Rabbis in Israel.  The hope of many is this will be first of many actions by these Rabbis to retake Halachic decisions from Haredi Rabbis who do not support the very institutions of the state, beyond what they can get from it.
Israeli correspondent Gil Tamari reported today from the United Nations.  He said that there is a sense of diplomatic movement going on in the UN, with Minister of Foreign Relations Tzpi Livni meeting with a long list of representatives from Arab states who usually refuse to meet with her.  Time will tell.