UTJ Submits Bill To Prevent Chametz In Hospitals On Pesach, Opposition Slams ‘Religious Coercion’

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JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In another indication of the new government’s intent to roll back policies of its predecessor, the UTJ party submitted a bill to ban Chometz from hospitals during Pesach.

In 2020 the High Court declared such bans in hospitals to be illegal, and last year the court issued a similar ruling regarding army bases. When Former health minister Nitzan Horowitz instructed hospitals to abide by the court’s ruling ahead of Pesach 2022, coalition whip Idit Silman described it as an attempt by the more liberal parties in the government to weaken the state’s “Jewish character” and used it as a pretext to leave the government, starting the process of the coalition’s downfall.

The new bill submitted Monday would legalize and require Chometz bans in hospitals, as was customary before the 2020 court decision.

“During the period of Passover, no chametz or other food — other than that which is in line with the directives set by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel — will be allowed in or held in a medical facility,” the bill read.

In their explanatory notes to the bill, MKs Moshe Gafni, Yaakov Asher, and Yitzchak Pindrus explained that their bill would not be overly onerous for non-Jewish patients in hospitals as “in light of developments in food technology there are kosher-for-Passover replacements for all sorts of foods — rolls, cakes, cookies and candy bars.”

Opposition MK and former Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana blasted the bill, stating it would lead to intentional attempts to bring in Chametz.

Former prime minister Yair Lapid said the government was “turning Judaism into religious coercion” and was causing a rift in Israeli society with its legislative agenda.

The modern orthodox Ne’emanei Torah V’Avoda similarly knocked the proposal, saying it would “sow hatred” and drive people away from religion.

“In terms of Jewish law, there are a number of solutions that do not require peeking around in people’s personal bags, as was done in different hospitals in the past. Laws like this that impose religion and get into people’s personal lives never bring people closer to Judaism and they are ultimately a boomerang that weakens the Judaism of the state,” the group said in a statement.

 


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