Exempting Shtreimels, Bill Banning Sale of Fur in Israel Expected to Advance

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Ultra-Orthodox men wear shtreimels at a wedding party.
Ultra-Orthodox men wear shtreimels at a wedding party. Credit: Alex Levac

Will the Knesset ban the sale of fur in Israel? On Monday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is due to discuss a bill that would impose a six-month sentence or monetary fine on anyone who sells fur or fur products.

To avoid objections from the ultra-Orthodox parties, one section of the bill would exempt the shtreimel – the fur hat worn by Hasidim on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and all other fur products “that are used for religious needs or religious tradition.” Previous attempts to advance similar legislation that did not make such exemptions failed due to opposition from the ultra-Orthodox factions.

At the same time, the bill would permit the use of fur products from cattle, sheep and camels, and the use of fur for scientific research. “The days are gone when people didn’t understand that animals suffer too and that humans have an obligation to protect helpless creatures that cannot defend themselves,” said the bill’s sponsor, Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli. The bill has garnered the signatures of 25 more MKs from coalition and opposition alike.

Michaeli says, “Cruelty to animals was prohibited in the Torah, and the time has come now for Israeli law to ban the sale of fur. Skinning animals in order to sell their fur is one of the cruelest, most horrible ways to kill animals. Today there are all kinds of synthetic fur available, and there is no reason for us to continue putting animals through such agony.”

The explanatory material for the bill says that each year hundreds of millions of animals are executed by the fur industry. “The fur industry entails indescribable cruelty and suffering for animals, which are bred in inhumane conditions, brutally captured in the wild, and killed. Often, animals are stripped of their fur while still alive. Fur is mainly used in the fashion industry. In a warm climate like Israel’s, fur is mainly purchased not out of need but as a status symbol. In the 21st century, there are synthetic fabrics that are warmer than fur,” says the explanatory text.

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