Hospital department head brings leavened bread into hospital to protest ‘hametz law’
Neurology department director calls the hametz law ‘madness’ that should be stopped
The director of the neurology department at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva posted a picture of himself bringing leavened bread into the hospital yesterday.
Professor Gal Ifergane carried the bread into the hospital to protest a ban on bringing hametz, or leavened products, into hospitals during Passover, known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Ifergane dropped the picture in a social media post with the statement, “I have never eaten hametz during Passover. But this year, for the first time in my life, I bought hametz during Passover and brought it publicly into the hospital. No one stopped me, because the country is sane. Only the government is delusional. Free citizen, free people. We have to stop the madness.”
Ifergane’s post attracted several reactions, both positive and negative. A few accused him of not respecting religious people who would not come to receive treatment for fear of being near hametz. Others applauded the move, saying that even though they keep kosher for Passover, the law was not necessary.
The hametz law forbidding hametz in hospitals was sponsored by the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and passed late last month. Its supporters claim they are only restoring the status quo that was prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling three years ago, when hospital directors could not place signs prohibiting the bringing of hametz into hospitals.
Before the Supreme Court decision, hospitals frequently posted signs prohibiting hametz but the enforcement of the prohibition was left up to the hospital director. Some hospitals separated their buildings into leaven-free zones for the religious and leaven-permitted zones for non-Jews or non-observant Jews.
The hametz law was submitted by Likud Knesset Member Idit Silman, who helped bring about the collapse of the Bennet-Lapid government last year over the issue of hametz in hospitals. At that time, she was a member of Bennett’s Yamina party. By resigning in protest over the issue of hametz, Silman left the coalition with no majority and, shortly afterwards, the coalition voted to dissolve.
Last week, a pregnant woman arriving at Laniado Medical Center in the city of Netanya was forced to leave a package of leavened cookies outside the hospital, even though Passover had not yet started. In response, an NGO, Yisrael Hofsheet (Free Israel), submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice against the hametz law.
After the petition filing, the Israeli Health Ministry clarified on Sunday that the law does not authorize hospital security to confiscate leavened products during Passover; it only allows hospitals to announce a ban.
Several hospitals have placed signs on their premises indicating a hametz ban but said they will not search for or confiscate leavened products from anyone.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.