JERUSALEM (Jan. 27)
The Chief Rabbinate is investigating the possibility that a large quantity of sacramental wine made in Israel and exported for Passover use is not “Kosher 1’Pesach.” The matter is not one of intentional fraud but the unwitting use of alcohol fermented from cornstarch instead of fruits. Cornstarch is “hametz”–leavened material–forbidden for Passover use according to religious law.
The matter was disclosed by the Aguda newspaper, Hamodia, which said that two major producers of alcohol for the food industry–“Assis” of Ramat Gan, and “Paka” of Bat Yam–had switched from fruit to cornstarch as the base for their alcohol production. Many leading wineries unknowingly used these firms’ products in wines that have been exported with the “Kosher for Passover” label.
Chief Rabbinate officials fear that much of the Israeli wine already exported to Jewish communities abroad is tainted by the “hametz” alcohol. They told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Chief Rabbinate would issue a statement identifying the wines when their investigation is completed. The wineries are cooperating. Normally the major wine firms go to great lengths to keep their Passover wines free of any contact with “hametz.” Winery employees must wear special clothes at work and are not allowed to bring their lunches anywhere near the wines.