MK Idit Silman: “When a minister in Israel says to bring in chametz, it is disrespectful to 70% of the Israeli public.”

On Tuesday, March 29th, Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) issued a letter to hospital administrators in Israel regarding allowing leavened food products, or chametz, into hospitals on the upcoming Passover holiday:

Whoever is hospitalized or comes to visit a family member in the hospital, the last thing that needs to be done is to search bags looking for chametz. This matter is over. In advance of Passover, I have instructed the hospitals to uphold the Supreme Court ruling, not to search bags for food, and not to prevent bringing it in. We will respect everyone, according to each one’s beliefs and values. Without harm and without coercion.

In a meeting of the Health Committee on April 3rd, Coalition Chairperson and chairperson of the committee, MK Idit Silman (Yamina) criticized the minister’s policy.

You know, people in the Holocaust fasted on Passover to avoid eating chametz.  And a minister in the State of Israel, in a coalition such as ours, unfortunately calls for bringing in chametz. Beyond the fact that it hurts me personally, and disrespects members of the coalition, it disrespects a significant percentage, nearly seventy percent of the Israeli public, with the approval of this government of unity and consideration. So I really owe him some sort of thanks, because he made me realize, because sometime we get lost in all of this hard work, that the people of Israel have certain banners, banners, that for entire generations people gave their lives for these banners, and we, certainly, in the current government will not be part of tearing them down. We have to respect the public. And I have to say here, from this committee desk, that we cannot take part in such a thing, where that is the message.

Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana (Yamina) addressed the issue in an interview with Jerusalem Radio:

If we want to push people away from Judaism, let’s legislate laws. I would love for the entire Jewish people to keep kosher, including on Passover. We must remember that in the Supreme Court’s decision, the concluding section says that care must be taken to ensure that whoever wants to observe the holiness of the holiday can do so.

Chairperson of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee MK Rabbi Gilad Kariv (Labor) responded to MK Silman in an interview with Reshet Bet:

The statements by the Chairperson of the Coalition about enforcing the ruling of the Supreme Court and about the Western Wall compromise are puzzling. I call on her to go back and take responsibility as an agent of compromise, otherwise she will not have a coalition to lead.

MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) tweeted:

Due to the important principle of freedom of religion and freedom from religion, the Supreme Court allowed bringing chametz into patients’ private hospital rooms. We must respect this Supreme Court ruling, even if it does not suit some coalition partners.

Chairperson of the Committee on Special National Infrastructure Projects and Jewish Religious Services MK Yulia Malinovsky (Yisrael Beitenu) tweeted:

The argument between the Chairperson of the Coalition and the Minister of Health is moot, because the Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that the ban on bringing chametz into hospitals is unconstitutional and thus void. We must remember that those who arrive at hospitals are a captive audience, and they do not come by choice. Israeli society is diverse and we must be considerate of its entirety. On the one hand, there is a very large group for whom the prohibition of chametz is very important, and we must respect that. On the other hand, there is another group who lives by different values, and we need to respect that as well. No one wants a return of pictures of hospital security guards searching bags and checking if visitors brought chametz with them.

In an interview with Channel 14, Ofir Akunis (Likud) stated:

The matter of chametz is an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I am a person who has never eaten chametz on Passover, and that is how I raise my children. I am not ultra-Orthodox. I maintain a traditional lifestyle with a secular orientation. And still, an entire people for thousands of years throughout the Diaspora communities keeps the prohibition on eating chametz.