Hospital confiscates pregnant woman’s cookies as new hametz laws go into effect

Hospital guards in central Israel confiscated cookies that were not kosher for Passover from a pregnant woman who checked into the medical center on Sunday, days before the start of the holiday, as hospitals across the country prepare to comply with the government’s new “hametz law.” run at its implementation. the Knesset last week.

The law prohibits hametz (porridge food) in medical centers during the eight days of Passover, with visible Jews avoiding those products, and it is left to hospitals to “use their own judgment as to how to notify visitors and staff” by posting. policies on their website or with signage at entrances, but does not expressly allow security guards to search bags of patients or visitors to enforce the policy.

Passover begins on Wednesday, April 5, this year.

Several major hospitals across Israel said they would post signs on hospital premises but would not search for tools to enforce the restrictions. Some said they would set up designated spaces or lockers for anyone who wants to keep their hametz.

But on Sunday, according to a Channel 12 report (in Hebrew), an employee stationed at the entrance to the Laniado Hospital in Netanya prevented a woman with a high-risk pregnancy from entering with a package of wafers that were not kosher for Passover, and she had to leave the food outside.

“The holiday hasn’t even started. And there’s also nothing in the law that says you have to leave food outside. The hospital is acting against the law,” said the woman’s angry husband to Channel 12. “Why did the hospital do this freedom of action?”

The husband, whose name has not been released, said a tent was set up at the hospital’s entrance where patients and visitors were required to hand over any non-residential food for Passover in exchange for a ticket to their get food back later, and gain. admission to hospital.

“They told her, ‘You have food that’s not a Passover party, leave it outside and you’ll get a ticket.’ She has a high-risk pregnancy and it makes no sense that she should go into emergency treatment without food to sustain her throughout the day,” he said, explaining that his wife receives treatment in hospital every two weeks during the pregnancy.

“This is an illegal act contrary to Hametz law. It’s simply outrageous,” he continued. Efforts to get clarification from hospital authorities have gone unanswered, he said.

In Haifa, the Rambam Medical Center has not indicated whether it will separate people from its hametz to enter, but it has posted prominent signs near the entrances saying it is providing lockers for people to store their porridge to leave

Signs are set up at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa after the Knesset passed the hametz law on March 28, 2023. (Courtesy of the Rambam Medical Center)

Of the various major hospitals contacted by The Times of Israel, Rambam appears to be taking the stricter approach against bringing hametz into its premises. Its signage includes instructions to “ban” hametz, stating that Israeli law “forbids” porridge on hospital premises.

The signage explains that “the hospital is under full kashrut certification for Passover, and if this kashrut is violated, it could prevent religious people from receiving the medical services they need.”

In a very tough time due to the government’s proposed judicial overhaul and an increase in terror attacks, other hospitals are hoping to keep conflict free.

Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center – Ichilov Hospital CEO Professor Ronni Gamzu warned against incentives in the public sphere, including public hospitals like Ichilov.

In an official tweet, Gamzu characterized Ichilov as a public institution that respects Jewish tradition. At the same time, he clarified “We did not check bags for hametz and we will not do it this year.” He called for mutual respect among Israel regarding religious differences.

Other hospitals issued statements indicating they would comply with the law, but did not include details. The emphasis was on their commitment to serving patients from all sectors and religious and ethnic backgrounds.

A general view of the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on November 10, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem reaffirmed its 120-year history of “preserving the mutual respect among all sectors within the unique and diverse human framework in Jerusalem that allows it to find the right balance to allow people live side by side rather than at the. each other’s expense.”

A spokesman for the hospital was quick to say that guards would not be searching people’s belongings.

Also in Jerusalem, Hadassah Medical Center referred to its “spirit and values ​​that lead to the excellent care and personalized treatment” it provides to its “patients from all ethnic groups, communities and nationalities, taking into account their religious beliefs.”

As of the writing of this article, the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer – Israel’s largest hospital – had not issued a statement on how it will implement the new law. A spokesperson said the hospital was finalizing its plan and putting together a public relations video to share with the public.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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