Eyal Lahav, owner of the Chili Pizzeria in Jerusalem, enjoyed a sweet victory on Thursday after a Jerusalem municipal court ruled that restaurants are not public domains and can thus sell bread and leavened goods on Passover.
Lahav, who was sued last year for violating the Pesach Law and selling bread products during the holiday, stated that he was congratulated by the many secular patrons of his restaurant.
“They told me that I won for them, that I proved that secular Jews also have a right to breathe and exist in Jerusalem,” he said.
Lahav states that, even though he was sick and away from his restaurant when the court had made its ruling, his wife and nephew received many words of congratulation from secular diners.
“Secular Jews do not have much to look forward to living in Jerusalem, and this is a little ray of hope for them,” said Lahav. “We waged this war for the patrons of our restaurant.”
Though most residents of Jerusalem are either religious or haredi, Lahav indicates that sales at his restaurant increase manifold during the holiday of Passover.
“The Passover week is when our sales are at their peak. My workload during the holiday typically doubles or even triples, and I cannot afford to give up this tremendous amount of business.
"I was threatened by haredim this year, as is the case ever year, and fear that the court ruling will likely encourage them to take even harsher actions. We cannot let our clients down, however, and so it will be business as usual.”
Sweet victory for secular restaurant goers (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Lahav noted that he unequivocally does not want to anger haredi residents of Jerusalem. “I don’t want to provoke them, I feel uncomfortable doing so,” he said.
The pizza parlor owner has no intention, however, of backing down from these bread battles either. When the Jerusalem Municipality offered to cut the fines imposed on his pizza parlor for selling bread on Passover by some 20%, he refused, opting instead to contest these fines outright.
Other business owners who sell leavened products on Passover also welcomed the court’s decision. A Beersheba grocery store owner told Ynet, “I was very encouraged by the court’s ruling, even though I had intended to sell bread products in my store at any rate.
"We don’t live in Iran, and there are many customers who are not religious and are inconvenienced by the Passover Law. I don’t tell religious Jews how to live their lives, and they have no right to tell me how to live mine.”
The store owner further noted that he was unconcerned about the fines that he might be forced to pay for selling leavened products on Passover, especially in light of the recent court ruling.
Yonat Atlas contributed to this report