The state is prepared to set aside areas in hospitals where chametz can be brought on Pesach, it said in its response to a petition by Meretz and secular groups on the matter. A report on Army Radio Monday said that the state would instruct hospitals “to set aside closed areas that would allow anyone interested to bring in and consume chametz on Pesach.” The new rule will be instituted this coming Pesach, the report said.
The decision comes in response to a petition by Meretz and the Secular Forum, an umbrella group of far-left and secular groups, demanding that hospitals allow chametz into the building on Pesach. Chametz has been banned in hospitals, as it is in general public areas; it is illegal for a restaurant, for example, to publicly serve chametz, although it can do so behind closed doors.
Individuals who enter Israeli hospitals are required to undergo security checks, and on Pesach, the security guards who conduct this search also look for chametz and confiscate it if it is found, returning it to the individual when they leave the building. The lawsuit claimed that this was discriminatory to non-Jews, as well as to those who choose not to refrain from eating chametz.
In its response, the state said that security guards would direct those who wish to bring chametz into the hospital to specific areas where it can be consumed. As patients in a hospital are only supposed to eat what doctors and nutritionists specify for their cases, the issue of bringing chametz to patients is moot. The state said that its solution was the best it could do if it wished to maintain the kashrus of hospitals and retain their kashrus certificates.
In response, the Secular Forum said the solution was not sufficient. “The state has rejected logical arrangements offered by the court and has chosen to play ‘power politics,’ insisting that the public space be a religious one. Secular visitors to the hospital will thus be put into a ‘chametz prison’ on the side. We must stop this insanity.”