Hospitals Defy Rabbinate on Chametz Checks

YERUSHALAYIM -

Five Israeli hospitals have said that they will refuse to comply with orders from the Chief Rabbinate and the Health Ministry to inspect visitors to ensure they do not carry chametz into the hospital premises, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

The announcement followed a petition submitted to the High Court filed jointly by the Secular Forum NGO, the Zionist Camp and Meretz parties, seeking to end the ban on chametz in public hospitals, claiming it is a form of religious coercion. As it stands, the hospitals are liable to lose their kashrut certification for Pesach if they defy the chametz rules. The state argued on Sunday for continuance of the practice.

The five hospitals are Shaarei Tzedek in Yerushalayim, Ichilov in Tel Aviv, Rambam in Haifa, Wolfson in Holon, Barzilai in Ashkelon, which serves a substantial Orthodox Jewish population.

Three hospitals announced that they will continue to abide by the Pesach rules: Hadassah’s two campuses in Yerushalayim, Laniado in Netanya, and Hillel Yaffe in Hadera.

Visitors who are carrying chametz are asked by security personnel to leave the items at the entrance gate of the hospital — to be picked up on their way out.