Doctor brings hametz into hospital freely amid 'Hametz Law' controversy

This came nearly a week after a pregnant woman arrived at Laniado Medical Center in Netanya on Sunday and was required to leave her snacks in a box at the hospital entrance.

 Doctor writing notes during a session with a patient. (photo credit: PEXELS)
Doctor writing notes during a session with a patient.
(photo credit: PEXELS)

Prof. Gal Ifergane, director of the neurology department at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, was able to enter the hospital on Sunday morning with hametz on Passover. 

This came nearly a week after a pregnant woman arrived at Laniado Medical Center in Netanya and was required to leave her snacks in a box at the hospital entrance because they were not kosher for Passover. 

She was stopped in the name of the "Hametz Law," which passed in Knesset at the end of March, prohibiting Israelis from bringing hametz into hospitals nationwide. 

Ifergane wrote on Facebook on Sunday: "This year for the first time in my life, I bought hametz on Passover and brought it publicly to the hospital. Nobody stopped me, because the country is sane. Just the government is crazy. Free citizens, free nation. The insanity must be stopped."

Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba (credit: DR. AVISHAI TEICHER/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba (credit: DR. AVISHAI TEICHER/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Hundreds of users responded to the post. Some attacked the doctor with one person saying: "Which department do you work in? So we will know that you only care about patients like yourself because you know that there are religious people who will not come to receive treatment for fear of being near hametz. Better for you to shout democracy at demonstrations and not treat people whom you hate."

Other commenters were more agreeable. "I keep kosher on Passover and in general, and this law incensed me. Good job!"

Health Ministry's counter-petition 

Meanwhile, also on Sunday morning, the Health Ministry submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice regarding the petition filed by NGO "Yisrael Hofsheet" against the "Hametz Law," which claims that a hospital administrator has the authority to prohibit or limit the introduction of hametz into the building in order to maintain the laws of kashrut on Passover. The Health Ministry's petition requests that the High Court reject the NGO's petition. 

The NGO petition argued that the institution of the "Hametz Law" did not give security guards the authority to search patients' personal items, saying that this was an unjustified violation of privacy. 

The petitioners added that the lawmakers themselves had intended the law to be "declarative" and intentionally did not allow for physical searches of hametz.

The text of the Health Ministry's petition addresses the issue of lower-level employees, such as security guards, enforcing the "Hametz Law" when, technically, only hospital directors are authorized to do so. It reads: "We intend to aid the hospital directors regarding the applicable limitations of the authorization of employees [to enforce] the instructions concerning...keeping kosher."

The issue of the pregnant hospital patient 

The pregnant woman arrived at Laniado Medical Center on April 2 and was required to leave her snacks in a box at the hospital entrance. After the incident, the woman told Walla News that she had arrived at the hospital for treatment in the at-risk pregnancy unit.

"At the hospital's entrance, a guard asked us to take out all the food we had with us and leave it outside. You get a number and put all of your hametz in a cardboard box, and you can take it when you leave. If you want to eat it, there is a nearby tent where you can eat but it is not allowed inside," she said.

"I'm a pregnant woman," she said, "but it's not just pregnant women. Everyone who spends a few hours or more [in the hospital] wants to eat the food they bring with them. It's outrageous. It's the only hospital in Netanya, it's not like there are other options," she added.

Eliav Breuer contributed to this report.