'Chametz in hospital' row not resolved this Pesach — but petitioners express hope for next year

Lobby group claims Israeli hospital regulations force non-Jews and secular Jews to abide by religious rules


The controversy over visitors bringing chametz to Israeli hospitals during Pesach was not solved this year.

But when the High Court reconvenes in June to hear a petition asking for regulations to be relaxed, the question may finally be resolved before next Pesach.

The original petition brought by the Secular Forum, a private lobby group, and some left wing politicians claimed that current regulations forced non-Jews and secular Jews to abide by religious rules.

They also objected to security guards searching the belongings of visitors to prevent them from bringing in food.

In practice, many hospitals in more secular areas, such as Tel Aviv, only display posters asking people not to bring in chametz food.

In more religious areas, such as Jerusalem, security guards may get involved, searching the possessions of visitors for food.

The Chief Rabbinate warns hospitals that if chametz is allowed in, they will lose their kashrut certification.

The government says regulations allow medical facilities to remain “open and accessible” to kashrut observers during Pesach and that asking visitors to desist from bringing in chametz for just over a week is not a major infringement of the patients’ rights.

The High Court pushed the petition back to be discussed in June.

It rejected a compromise proposed by the government that the hospitals allow a secluded place near the entrance to hospitals where chametz can be consumed.

At a Health Ministry conference held at the end of March, Deputy Health minister Yaakov Litzman warned that “no hospital management is allowed not to carry out the procedure which has been customary for 70 years.”

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