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Activists plan Passover ‘pizza party’ to protest hospital hametz law

Legislation would give hospital directors the power to ban leavened products from their institutions during the week-long holiday

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Illustrative. Pizza. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative. Pizza. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Two prominent anti-government activists announced plans to distribute pizza outside a hospital on the first day of Passover to protest legislation to ban bread and leavened products from such institutions.

Dana Gat and Yoav Glasner plan to announce the location of their “pizza party,” as they called it, closer to its planned date of April 7, Time Out reported Sunday. The action is connected to the progression in Knesset of the so-called hametz law, which gives hospital directors the power to announce – but not to enforce – a ban on bringing bread into their institutions on the week of Passover, when Jews are commanded to refrain from eating leavened products, or hametz, in Hebrew.

The bill, whose opponents say amounts to religious coercion and whose advocates say is meant to safeguard the rights of observant patients, was scheduled for a second and third reading Sunday night.

“We favor freedom of — and from — religion,” Gat and Glasner wrote on Facebook, on an event page advertising the pizza party. “The hametz law does the exact opposite. To protest it, we’ll have a pizza party on Passover this year in front of a hospital in the center.”

The legislation, initiated by lawmakers from two Orthodox Haredi parties, is indirectly tied to the debate about the balance of power between the judiciary and the executive branch, which is at the heart of the government’s controversial judicial overhaul.

The lawmakers who submitted the bill said it was in response to a 2021 ruling by the High Court of Justice, which said that hospitals may not legally prohibit people from bringing in leavened goods during Passover. The court cited the civil rights of those not interested in observing that religious rule.

In multiple surveys conducted in recent years among Jewish Israelis, a clear majority of respondents, ranging between 59 percent and 70%, said they do not eat hametz on Passover. Religious laws on hametz command Jews to make sure their homes or other dwellings contain no hametz on Passover. However, if a person is unable to remove hametz from such a dwelling, many rabbis agree that that person is not in violation of the rules.

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