A Tel Aviv couple filed a discrimination complaint with the Afula Municipality after witnessing families being denied entry to the city’s main park on Sunday, due to the fact that they had bread in their possession during the Passover holiday.
The couple said they were surprised to discover the guard at the municipal park’s entrance looking through visitors’ belongings to check for ‘hametz’ (leavened food), which Jewish law determines is not kosher for Passover and which observant Jews do not consume during the weeklong festival.
Michal Avivi, who described the incident in a (Hebrew) Facebook post as “embarrassing and shameful,” said families were being turned away at the entrance or were forced to eat their picnics outside the park’s premises.
“In a 2015 Israel, people’s bags are being searched for food. Not weapons or bombs, food,” Avivi wrote sarcastically.
מיכל אביבי:״בתמונה הזו אתם רואים אנשים שיושבים בכניסה של הפארק העירוני של עפולה, ולא מורשים להכנס בגלל שהם אוכלים לחם….
“I had a hard time walking past the people outside who were being punished and ignore the brutal trampling of democratic values right in front of me,” she continued.
According to Israeli law, it is forbidden for stores to “sell or present” hametz from noon on the eve of the Passover festival until sundown eight days later. The law is not generally applied to stores in communities where Jews are a minority.
The law does not apply to consumers. Most Israelis are not Orthodox, and almost a quarter are not Jewish.
Businesses selling hametz in violation of the law usually pay fines, and many restaurant owners decide the profits from selling hametz on Passover are well worth the fines paid, since traditionally Israelis who do not keep kosher have less choice on Passover and these restaurants have greater revenue during that week.
Passover began this year on Friday night, April 3.