FaithWorld

Passover debate highlights religious rift in Israel

April 21, 2008

Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray as they burn food containing leavening in Jerusalem, 18 April 2008/Gil Cohen MagenEarlier this month an Israeli court decided that stores and restaurants can sell food banned by Jewish ritual law during this week’s Passover holiday. Israeli courts are often arbiters in quarrels between Israel’s influential Orthodox community and its secular majority. This time the ruling has angered the Orthodox.

Ritual Jewish law forbids consuming leavened products known as hametz– from bread to beer– during the week of Passover. The tradition commemorates the biblical Israelites who did not have time to let their bread rise before the hasty exodus from slavery in Egypt.

My article on the Passover debate discusses the details and consequences of the April 3 court decision that overturned the convictions of two restaurant owners, a grocer and the owner of a pizza parlor who sold hametz last year. The court ruled that restaurants and stores can serve hametz because they are not “public areas.”

Matzah-unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the Passover holidayThe decision has been heavily protested, including by a 27-year-old Orthodox man who was arrested by police after he stripped off his clothes in a non-kosher supermarket near Tel Aviv to challenge the definition of “public areas.”

But this is just the latest episode highlighting the rift between Orthodox and secular Jews in Israel.

The courts and attorney general have already intervened several times this past year when Orthodox and secular interests collided, including in debates on religious-public bus lines and same-sex adoption.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, 12 MARCH 2008/Brian SnyderIsrael will celebrate its 60th anniversary next month but is still trying to define its identity as a Jewish state.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a secular Jew, said she did not agree with the court’s decision.

“Most of us don’t follow all the commandments and I disagree with the (ultra-Orthodox) parties on many things, but we have an interest in protecting the values and symbols of a Jewish state,” she told her centrist Kadima faction. “Everyone’s talking about the 60th anniversary celebrations. Every child knows what democracy is, but when they are asked what is a Jewish state, people stand with their mouth agape.”

Comments
4 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

In this case, you’re ignoring the fact that the rift is between the Israeli court and its general population. Polls show that a majority of Jews in Israel (orthodox and secular) do not buy hametz on Passover and do not want to see it publicly displayed.

Posted by Ora | Report as abusive
 

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE EROSION OF RELIGIOUS LAW WITHIN ISRAEL. IN ISRAEL – PUBLIC LAWS OF KASHRUTH SHOULD BE RELIANT UPON THE “TORAH TRUE VALUES” WHICH ARE UPHELD BY ORTHODOX JEWS. THIS EROSION IS A DISGRACE. WHEN ISRAEL WAQS FIRST ESTABLISHED DAVID BEN-GURION SPOKE TO A LEADING RABBI IN JERUSALEM ABOUT A SIMILAR PROBLEM. HE ADVISED DAVID BEN-GURION TO ALLOW THE ISRAELI LAW TO REFLECT THE TORAH’S VIEWPOINT SINCE IT WAS THERE DOMAIN. DAVID BEN-GURION AGREED AND EARLY ISRAELI LAW FOLLOWED THE TORAH IN SUCH MATTERS.
THIS DECISION IS A DISGRACE AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO EXIST. HOW CAN A JEWISH STATE ALLOW NON-KOSHER LAW TO EXIST. THIS IS A SHANDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by ARNIE | Report as abusive
 

this is a total disgrace. Israel is the home of the Jewish people and we must insist that we keep the the laws of our religieon and not have hametz available during Pesah.

Posted by steven cornman | Report as abusive
 

As a secular Jew I have the same rights as a religious Jew. I should not have to be forced to live by their religious rules and laws. History has proven repeatedly that Theocracies are the most oppressive forms of government. To survive Israel had better relegate religion to its proper place – in the home and Schul. Keep all of it out of my life!!!!

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive
 

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