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Israel’s ultra-Orthodox seek to prohibit Passover non-Kosher food in hospitals

Back in the coalition and in greater force, ultra-Orthodox parliamentarians exploit their political clout to advance religious legislation.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men bake Matzoth (unleavened bread) at a bakery in the central Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, on April 11, 2022. Religious Jews eat Matzoth during Pesach holiday (Passover). According to biblical narrative, due to the haste with which the Jews left the land of Egypt, the bread prepared for the journey did not have time to rise. To commemorate their ancestors' plight, religious Jews do not eat leavened food products throughout Passover. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament approved on Wednesday at a preliminary reading the so-called “leavened bread” law, banning bread and related non-Kosher products in hospitals over the Jewish holy day of Passover. The bill proposed by ultra-Orthodox Knesset member Moshe Gafni must still go through three plenary votes before becoming law but is expected to go into force by Passover, which falls on April 9 this year.

According to the Jewish tradition, all foods with leavening agents, such as breads and cakes, are forbidden from being eaten and even from being kept at home during Passover week. Instead of bread, traditional Jews eat matzah (unleavened) bread. Still, legislation in Israel does not prevent people from eating or selling leavened foods. Like the Israel Defense Forces and other public institutions, public hospitals always purge bread and related leavened products from their kitchens over Passover, but private hospitals do not. Also, public hospital staff generally does not search visitors and patients to enforce a bread ban.

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