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Israeli Hotels May Display Christmas Trees

03-10-2015

JERUSALEM, Israel -- Christians planning to spend Christmas in Israel next year may find a Christmas tree in their hotel lobby.

Israel's Chief Rabbinate lifted its prohibition against displaying Christmas trees, which was based on a ban forbidding references to "gentile holidays."

In the past, a hotel that ignored the ban may have risked forfeiting its kashrut certificate, effectively eliminating observant Jews from its clientele.

The ruling came after Hiddush, an NGO advocating for religious freedom in Israel, petitioned the Chief Rabbinate to remove the prohibition, prompting Tuesday's ruling lifting the ban.

Rabbi Uri Regev, president and CEO of Hiddush, praised the decision, saying it gives Jewish and non-Jewish groups the "freedom and respect that has been denied them."

"It is an important lesson in the development of the rule of law in Israel, which emphasizes that the Chief Rabbinate is bound by Israeli law and is not above it," he said.

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