Israel’s Chief Rabbinate loses right to ban Christmas trees in Israeli hotels

JERUSALEM (RNS) Israel's Chief Rabbinate has backed down on its long-standing prohibition against placing Christmas trees in the country's hotels, as well as other rules related to the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.     The Chief Rabbinate's new regulations, announced on  Thursday (March 5), came in response to a petition from Hiddush _ Freedom of Religion for Israel, a nongovernmental organization that fights religious coercion. The group filed the petition with Israel's attorney general and the Ministry of Religious Services.     The former regulations stated that hotels that included “references to gentile holidays'' would lose their kosher food licenses, a step that would make it impossible for observant Jews to stay at the hotels.     The regulations also stated that events taking place on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays must comply with strict Jewish law.