Public Told to Look Out for 'Pirate Matza'

Days before Pesach, the police and the Chief Rabbinate joined together in a raid on a bakery in Be'er Tuvia, which aroused suspicions of a large-scale kashrut fraud. The bakery produced large quantities of hand-baked matzot, which was sold at reduced prices to private individuals and a non-profit organization. It had a seven-ton stockpile of matzot. However, it transpired the kashrut stamps on the matzot packages have been faked, and the rabbinate warned the fake matzot were as good as ordinary bread for any holiday purpose.

The matzot in question were sold in one-kilogram packages labeled "Matzot Mehadrin" (allegedly approved by Be'er Tuvia Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Ambrabi and Badatz Beit Yosef, a kashrut organization operating under the aegis of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef), and in three-matzot packages labeled "Mitzvah shmura le lev rahav," supposedly approved by Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior.

The smaller package was made in cooperation with Beit Issie Shapiro, an organization for people with disabilities, and other non-profits. Charity volunteers delivered thousands of such matzot this week to needy families - with no knowledge of the alleged fraud.

Two rabbis at the Chief Rabbinate whose job is to watch out for fraud, Rabbi Yaakov Sabag and Rabbi Rafi Yochai, issued a warning about the the risk of eating bread instead of unleavened matza on Seder night. The two rabbis called on the public to display the warning prominently in synagogues. The organizations whose names were used on the fake matzot packaging have released denials about any participation on their part in religious media outlets.