Raisins Update – The Israeli Scene

Earaisinsrlier today, I released a statement provided to me by Rabbi Eliyahu Safran of the OU in the United States. I began by posting this document in response to many emails regarding raisins, but did not expect such a vibrant and rapid response, wanting to know about raisins in Eretz Yisrael. 

I will first abuse this forum however to insert my two cents, quite perplexed by readers who sent curt if not downright offensive emails questioning why I failed to mention the status of raisins in Israel. The response is I am doing the best I can given the time, money, equipment and other restraints. This is a free public service intended to increase kashrut awareness, not a paid commercial service that readers to subscribe to so I ask that you benefit from the available information and begin asking kashrut agencies and rabbis the questions left unanswered.

Baruch Hashem, a number of rabbis including Rabbi Safran, a veteran kashrus expert, have agreed to assist, but one again, it is not possible to address every question or inquiry regarding a caterer or restaurant. I am also not qualified to render a decision if one may or may not eat in a particular place, but can act as an agent to publish information when time permits me to probe an establishment.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand – I spoke with a number of reputable agencies for a response, which you may see below. Please, please, post comments on the website and do not send them to me. Comments will usually generate feedback from other readers. I no longer have time to respond to most emails due to the increased volume, which Baruch Hashem is overwhelming, indicating the word is getting out.

I stress here that the responses below pertain to yellow and dark raisins sold in Israel at present. Things change [for better or worse] from time-to-time depending on season, weather and other conditions. This response also pertains to locally produced raisins as well as raisins imported from California.

Rav Eliyahu Schlesinger Shlita – Posek of the Jerusalem Rabbinate: Raisins must be soaked in warm water for 10 minutes or so. If insects are seen floating on top, they may not be used.

Badatz Agudat Yisrael
: Raisins are to be soaked in warm water. If insects are seen floating above the water, they may not be used.

Rav Moshe Vaya
Shlita: Raisins are to be soaked in warm water for ten minutes. If insects are found, they may not be used. Rav Vaya, ‘the’ expert in the field according to many, adds that at present, the infestation of all raisins sold in Israel is extremely high and they must be viewed as “infested” from the onset.

Rav Vaya added that tests recently conducted on California raisins revealed that after soaking for 2 hours, bugs that were not floating atop the water earlier were present. He added this is not a viable means of cleansing them since after two hours, there are no edible.

He suggests that raisins be avoided for the time being but for those who must have them, the 10-minute soak. If they are insect free, then to wash them under a strong stream of water using ones fingers to rub them gently while running the water.

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