Ethanol Not Kosher, asks Times?

April 1, 2007
There's a a tempest in the, um, gas tank in New Jersey, according to the New York Times, which got the story from the The Bergen County Jewish Times. It seems some Orthodox Jews, especially those of the ultra-conservative Ashkenazi breed, supposedly have challenged the use of ethanol-tainted fuel in the cars of their fellow temple members.

Ethanol is made from corn, which is forbidden for Ashkenazis to eat during Passover--meaning the next few days. But the operator of a gas station selling "Kosher" gasoline, a Mr. Yanev Ben-Zaken, is reported to claim the religious laws also ban any benefit to Ashkenazi Jews from corn. That means no ethanol blends in their Volvos (as the NYT puts it) as well.

Ben-Zaken, the Times said, has engaged the services of a rabbi, Yitzchok Mandelbaum, to supervise the draining of offensive gasoline from tanks and replacing it with his station's 100% ethanol-free fuel--at a price of only $9.69 per gallon.

But wait! Look at the date: April 1.

It was all a hoax for April Fool's Day, revealed via Internet and blogs. There is no such paper, the New York Times reveals well down in its story, as The Bergen County Jewish Times. No Ben-Zaken, nor rabbi either.

However, one Jewish merchant interviewed for the story before the NYT reporter got wise noted that "30 years ago no one knew what Kosher water was; now you have to have it."

The White House and the Corn Lobby breathed a sigh of relief. For now.--Mike Davis

The kosher ethanol controversy uncovered--The New York Times

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