Monday, March 18

Israel’s Passover Waffles War

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety—Benjamin Franklin


A few days from now, on March 26, 2013, the Jewish 
Passover, nicknamed the Feast of Freedom in Hebrew, 
will be celebrated in Israel. During the week in which it is 
celebrated, the strictest “kashrut” dietary laws are 
enforced on Israel’s population. In the name of Freedom, 
the State denies it, in the best of the 1984 tradition.
The main difference with other periods of the year is the 
prohibition on eating leavened bread+ and its derivatives; 
most Israelis run amok trying to get good and fresh pita 
bread from Palestinian bakeries. Supermarkets, as all other 
food stores, depend on an operation permit issued by the 
Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which imposes strict kashrut laws. 
During Passover, supermarkets sell special products, even 
popular waffles++ must be produced from flour which does 
not contain “hametz,” leavened flour. In 2013, this led to an 
unexpected war between the Rabbinate and one of the most 
powerful supermarket chains.

Brussels Waffles

Shufersal Passover Waffles
Shufersal Passover Waffles – Cauldron of Resistance
Aramaic Supermarket?
The naming of a product is considered a critical issue for its 
success. Naming a chocolate sauce “Swampy Smell” will 
probably lead to its failure. In 1958, an Israeli supermarket 
chain was founded and given only a slightly better name. 
Hebrew and Aramaic are similar tongues. More often than 
not, their words share the same Semitic root but are 
conjugated in a slightly different form. Educated Hebrew 
speakers often spice up their language with Aramaic words. 
The supermarket chain owners baptized their creation 
“Shupra-Sal,” a name which combines Aramaic and Hebrew 
and that can be translated as “Superb-Basket.” Due to a 
lame choice of spelling, the good idea became impossible to 
comprehend. Instead, it is known in a variety of 
pronunciations, like “Shufer-Sal” and “Super-Sal.” The latter 
is the most popular. The branding error didn’t stop the 
owners; with almost 250 branches, they are among the 
largest supermarket chains in the country, with a yearly 
revenue of roughly $3 billion. They have enough resources 
to fight the Chief Rabbinate.

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”—George Orwell, 1984
Chief Rabbinate of Israel Passover Letter
Chief Rabbinate of Israel Passover Letter

Israeli supermarkets resemble their American and European 
cousins, with adaptations to the Middles Eastern climate and 
diet. Even in the smallest branches, several hundred flour 
products are available. Making a branch “kasher lepesach,” 
ready for Passover, is a logistic nightmare demanding the 
experience of an army’s logistics general. Errors happen. 
Food products sold in regular days must have a “kasher” 
sign, i.e. a mark stating that they fulfill the “kashrut” laws. 
Products approved for Passover must have a different sign, 
reading “kasher lepesach.” After lengthy considerations, the 
Chief Rabbinate of Israel concluded that this is not enough. 
They issued a letter, reproduced above, stating that the 
shape of the package must be changed in order to make 
errors even more difficult. For reasons of clarity, I simplified 
the requests. Before the letter the supermarkets needed an 
army general, after it, they need entire teams of field 
marshals to fulfill the rabbis requests. Would the rabbis pay 
for the expensive request? Do they expect waffle-eating 
people to pay for it, even if they don’t care which flour was 
used for their beloved “Swampy Smell Waffers?”

Super-Sal didn’t care. In a daring disregard of the Chief 
Rabbinate of Israel, they placed in their branches the waffles 
appearing in the picture above, which resemble the regular 
packages and feature a yellow “kasher lepesach” sign. After 
all, how can one place strictly rectangular waffles in a 
“different package?” Circular packages are useless in this 
case. The severe transgression was noticed by Jewish-
religious media and published among cries of murder. The 
cryptic answer of the chain was that they “are working with 
the Chief Rabbinate.” Rabbis, apparently too busy eating 
waffles, did not answer. The Waffles War is on.


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