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Drones, cameras to secure rabbis, produce during shmita year

Drones and security cameras will help protect supervisors as well as fruit and vegetable supply chains during the shmita (sabbatical) year, amid security challenges in the West Bank and near Gaza, rabbis at a conference of the Yoreh De’ah kashrut system announced this past week.

Rabbi David Tehrani, a legal scholar for the Yoreh De’ah beth din and one of the rabbis working to ensure that the laws of the shmita year can be kept, revealed that security forces had completed policies to allow the supervision by the kashrut system. The policies will include security for supervisors and supply lines through security cameras, drones and other measures.

“Despite security challenges in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Triangle, and the difficulties of movement in and out of Europe which has been stricken with the coronavirus, procedures for the regular supply of fruit and vegetables during the year of the shmita were completed,” said Tehrani.

An experimental pilot of crops grown on surfaces detached from the ground began about two years ago in order to allow Israel not to be dependent on crops from countries whose “political climate with Israel can change in an instant,” added Tehrani.

The shmita year is a religious commandment mandated by the Torah which requires arable land in the Land of Israel be left fallow every seventh year. The next shmita year begins in September 2021.

Vegetables will only be treated with organic pesticides without any chemicals, with each delivery of produce sampled and approved in a strict manner by the Health Ministry.

During the conference, Tehrani also mentioned the work of various government ministers and MKs to ensure the ability to keep the laws of shmita, and cooperation between kashrut agencies in Israel and members of the Conference of European Rabbis.

Cooperation with health ministries in Europe allowed supervisors to travel across Europe, despite the coronavirus pandemic. A supply line for frozen vegetables is also being operated by sea in coordination with health and transportation authorities in Italy, Spain, Belgium and France.

Supplies of fruit and vegetables from Egypt, Jordan and Turkey have also been secured.

Rabbi Shlomo Machpud, the head of Yoreh De’ah’s beth din, stressed that, due to the various challenges, kashrut supervisors must act responsibily, according to the traditions of the forefathers. “Every overseer and supervisor…should not, G-d forbid, take it lightly and say ‘I am only a small part of the system,'” said Machpud.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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