The Knesset plenum approved a bill allowing hospitals to prohibit chametz, or leavened meals, during the seven-day Passover holiday.
The motion, which seeks to overturn a Supreme Court decision from April 2020 holding that hospitals could not implement a comparable rule, received the support of 48 Knesset members and the opposition of 43.
The legislation that gives hospital administrators the freedom to choose “the special measures” required to guarantee that patients can maintain kosher during Passover was proposed by the Charedi United Torah Judaism Party.
The hospital’s website will be updated with chametz instructions established by hospital administrators by the law, and signs will be placed throughout the institution. The religious guidelines will also be shared with the staff.
When the Supreme Court, then known as the High Court of Justice, ruled in 2022 on a petition from a secular group that hospitals could not require security guards to inspect visitors’ baggage for chametz during the holiday, it overturned a related statute that had been in existence for more than three decades.
The limits undermine patients’ rights to dignity, autonomy, and religious freedom, all intended to be protected under the law in a democratic nation, the justices argued in their judgment.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel was represented in the lawsuit by Professor Aviad Hacohen, who criticized the High Court’s decision.
The decision, according to Hacohen, “would convert the final site where Jews, Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, and secular people coexist.”
When he sent a letter to hospitals directing them to allow chametz on Passover in response to the decision in April of last year, then-Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz ignited a political uproar. As a result, MK Idit Silman, the coalition whip at the time and a member of the Yamina Party resigned.
An early election resulted from her departure, which cost the coalition its majority in the Knesset. Silman is now the Likud Party’s minister of the environment.
Halacha prohibits the consumption and possession of leavened goods on holidays.