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14 Elul 5769 - September 3, 2009 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Widespread Kashrus Problems in Shofars Manufactured in Morocco

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Rabbonim and tashmishei kedushoh experts are warning the general public to be wary when purchasing Moroccan shofars manufactured abroad, even if they bear some sort of kashrus certification, after it was found that supervising the process is infeasible.

According to an investigative report published in Yated Ne'eman several weeks ago, Moroccan Arabs routinely use polyester adhesive to plug up holes and cracks in the horns, some of which are present before the manufacturing process begins, and many also occur when the horn is heated and shaped.

Only occasionally is the hole located in a spot that has natural color changes in the horn's fibers, and in such cases the filler does not match the changing color and obscure the hole, thereby revealing the underhanded repair work. But in the case of shofars with even coloration it is almost impossible to detect patches, since the color can be replicated. In some cases Arab workers even melt down plastic glasses frames to create a solution that closely resembles the horn.

Also, there is no practical way to constantly oversee the manufacturing process, which takes place on Shabbos and chagim as well. The keys to the manufacturing facilities are only available to the Arab owners, though halacha states if kashrus certification is granted to a non-Jewish manufacturer, there must be close supervision throughout the time the work site is open, and the keys must be in the hands of the mashgiach.

"In recent years various importers have brought in numerous shofars manufactured in Marrakesh, Morocco," wrote HaRav Aryeh Levine, the rov of the Tashmishei Kedushoh Department of the Tel Aviv Religious Council, which supervises shofar production in Eretz Yisroel, in a letter to Rafi Yochai, director of the Kashrut Fraud Enforcement Unit at the Chief Rabbinate.

"The current situation does not enable regular, orderly supervision over the production stages, primarily because the work process there causes cracks and holes to form in the shofars, which are then plugged up with foreign substances as demonstrated in sample checks conducted last year. Therefore the Tashmishei Kedushoh Department has given notice that it does not bear any responsibility for the kashrus of Moroccan shofars."


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