MKs: Allowing hametz on Pessah harms Jewish identity

Knesset convenes for deliberation of Jerusalem court decision to allow stores to sell leavened products during Pessah.

zevulun orlev 224 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
zevulun orlev 224 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
With five days left until the start of Pessah the Knesset convened Monday for a special discussion on the decision by a Jerusalem court to allow eateries to sell hametz during the holiday. MK Shmuel Halpert (UTJ), who initiated the discussion, attacked Judge Tamar Bar-Tzavan and claimed that her decision was a severe blow to the Jewish identity of Israel. "Who among us does not know stories of Jews who were careful during the Holocaust not to eat hametz, God forbid," Halpert asked. "My esteemed father would fast for nine days on Pessah and drink only water in order to avoid stumbling and eating hametz." "The judge's decision shows that she considers herself authorized to make decisions on a national issue," he continued, saying the ruling also "harms the Jewish identity of the State of Israel." "I am doubtful whether there is more than one devil who shares her opinion. The judge's decision can be a stumbling block for many Jews," he concluded. According to MK Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP), who was next to address the plenum, "the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public wishes to adhere to the Jewish tradition not only personally but publicly and nationally." "If only we had no need for a law - that should have been the ideal situation, just like we do not need a Yom Kippur law, a Brit Mila law, and just like there is no law mandating the consumption of matza on Pessah," Orlev said. "The Hametz Law was enacted because people - maybe they were a minority, especially in the Tel Aviv area - were scornful, did not show sensitivity, and served hametz in public." MK Avraham Ravitz blamed "liberal terrorism," with attempting to uproot Israel's Jewish identity. "The law does not forbid selling or eating hametz, but rather displaying it in public," he said. "The surplus liberalism of the judge prompted her to a patently unintelligent interpretation of the law." "I protest the liberal terrorism that wishes to uproot any Jewish characteristic from the State of Israel, which prides itself in being Jewish and democratic," he added. "I call upon the government to rectify the judge's wrong, and safeguard the Jewish symbols of the state." Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On asked whether Israel's Jewish identity hinged upon pita bread. "We don't have to make amendments to the Hametz Law [in order to annul the judge's decision], rather we must cancel [the Hametz Law]. Your attempt to coerce people and decide what, how and where to eat is not at the center of Jewish identity." "I do not eat hametz on Pessah, and that is how I educate my children," Labor MK Ophir Paz-Pines said. "Nevertheless, the Hametz Law does not promote abstention from eating hametz. We can examine the data: Since the law was enacted more Israeli Jews eat hametz on Pessah. The judge who made the decision is orthodox, observant. There is a problem with the way the law was enacted; it cannot be enforced and everybody knows that." "We must hold a serious discussion regarding the manner in which tradition and heritage are safeguarded," he concluded.