Confusion over shop Israel boycott

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2010
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A Stamford Hill greengrocer which displays an agreement with strictly Orthodox rabbis not to sell Israeli goods, has shocked many of its Jewish customers - who believe it is a boycott.

Fresh & Fruity in Stamford Hill, which is not Jewish-owned, displays a signed agreement with the Kedassia, the kashrut division of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

A Kedassia representative said the shop had agreed not to sell Israeli goods in case it breached religious agricultural rules about fruit and vegetables grown in the land of Israel. These include restrictions on produce grown during the shmittah year, the seventh year of growth in which fields are left fallow, and another restriction, orlah, in which fruit trees are not harvested for the first three years of their lives.

But customer Jonathan Myers, who lives in the local area, said he and many Jewish friends had been horrified when they saw the sign.

He said: "I know a lot of people who have stopped visiting the shop. I won't go again until I hear a decent explanation. As far as I'm concerned, this is
a boycott under a different name."

The agreement allows members of the Kedassia to inspect the shop and stipulates that the public will be informed if Israeli fruit and vegetables are found in the store.

Charedi community leader Rabbi Avraham Pinter said: "It is actually in halachah that goods should not be exported from Israel, because it drives up the prices in Israel - which might cause people to leave the country. So it's not a boycott, it's exactly the opposite.

"The Jewish community in Stamford Hill is almost exclusively Charedi, but I can understand why others might make the mistake.

"I will work with the Kedassia to make the sign clearer about why the shop will not sell Israeli produce."

Fresh & Fruity's manager Chris Steele said: "We are working with the Kedassia to let them check the products because then our customers can feel comfortable buying them."

    Last updated: 4:17pm, October 14 2010