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Fresh produce from Israel has all sorts of halachic concerns: Orla, Shemittah, Terumot and Maasrot.

Periodically, I come across fresh fruit imported from Israel. I generally avoid buying it, but I'd rather know where to find answers to all the questions than just avoid them.

The most recent issue: This time of year (March - April), Costco (in the US) carries Orri mandarins. Orri mandarins are grown locally here in Florida, but the ones at Costco are labelled "Product of Israel" and have no kashrut certification on the packaging.

Given that it's early April, just after a Shemittah year, the biggest question about these mandarins is whether they are from last year (the Shemittah year) or this year. Where can I find information about growing seasons?

I also wonder whether it's possible that they are Orla.

I have heard people claim that all produce exported from Israel is certified to have some minimal level of kashrut by the Rabbanut HaRashit. If this is true, what are the details?

To be clear, I am not asking for answers to halachic questions, i.e. what do to with Shemittah fruit. The information I need is about growing seasons, tree lifecycles, and about what role the Rabbanut plays is overseeing exported fresh produce that isn't explicitly certified kosher.

Ideally, the answer I'm looking for would list some resources that discuss the following topics:

  1. growing seasons in Israel for any given fruit or vegetable
  2. how long it takes any given type of tree to produce fruit that meet the typical quality standards for export.
  3. To what extent, if any, the Rabbanut oversees all produce exported from Israel.

UPDATE This article has thorough coverage of my exact question about Shemittah status: http://theshc.org/israeli-fruit-for-the-american-consumer/

  • Isaac, from that link "Many people mistakenly believe that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel separates terumah and ma’aser from all produce exported to America. Our office clarified this matter with the Rabbanut and, regrettably, this is presently not the case." In the footnotes it also discusses specific fruits as relates to Orlah – Double AA Apr 1 '16 at 17:57
  • Thank you for clarifying. That definitely settles parts 2 and 3 of my question. – Isaac Betesh Apr 1 '16 at 18:09
  • Interesting question. Hard enough for me to follow on these issues in Israel. But just to clarify. Israeli mandarins which would show up in the US now would have grown last year and would be subject to the laws of shmitta. Most likely they are heter mechira which you might or might not accept (the Israeli rabbanut does organize it, mehadrin kashrut doesn't use heter mechira). – mbloch Apr 2 '16 at 21:00
  • @mbloch Can you link to a source for the Rabbanut's mechira? Does that apply to the entire country or famers have to opt in? – Isaac Betesh Apr 4 '16 at 17:32
2

This lists the Last Dates of Kedushas Shevi’is, Sefichin and Biur 5775/5776:

http://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/3023/last-dates-of-kedushas-sheviis-sefichin-and-biur-57755776/

Here is a Stark-K article on how to act post Shemitta:

http://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/3020/charting-the-course-of-shmitta-5776-a-consumers-guide-to-post-shmitta/

  • Josh welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for your first answer! If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us. – mbloch Apr 2 '16 at 20:56

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