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In Israel, even cows keep kosher for Passover

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Daniella Cheslow

(Read caption) Ilan Reitch feeds his cows kosher food for Passover.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

For observant Jews, Passover means no leavened bread or wheat. But in Israel, the holiday diet applies to animals, too – on farms, in zoos, and at home. A week before Passover, at Kibbutz Maaleh Hahamisha, outside Jerusalem, 250 cows chewed on corncobs and stalks, their bales of hay from wheat plants locked away in a shed.

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Dairy farmer Ilan Reitich says Passover feed costs more and the cows produce less milk while they eat it. But Mr. Reitich, who is secular, must keep kosher cows to sell milk to Israel’s largest dairy cooperative, Tnuva. “If I don’t give them kosher feed, I will need to throw all the milk down the drain,” Reitich says.

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Rabbi Zeev Weitman oversees 20 kosher supervisors who inspect the 750 dairies supplying Tnuva. “On Passover, not only can’t you eat hametz [grains that are not kosher], but you also can’t derive benefit from it,” Rabbi Weitman says.