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Judge Elyakim Rubinstein
Photo: Niv Calderon
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Supreme Court: Muslim inmates won't receive chametz during Passover
Muslim prisoner appealed district court decision not to provide him with fresh bread during holiday, however Supreme Court rules he must consider his fellow Jewish inmates

Bad news for non-Jewish inmates. Supreme Court justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Edna Arbel rejected Wednesday an appeal filed by a Muslim inmate against a district court decision not to provide him with fresh bread during Passover.

 

Madabe Mahmoud Rayiq, serving a prison sentence in an integrated section which includes Jews and Muslims, requested in his petition to be allowed to receive bread during Passover since there was no Israeli law imposing kashrut in state facilities.

 

He claimed that according to the halacha, a non-Jew subject to Jewish authority is allowed to eat chametz during Passover and denying him that violates his basic rights.

 

The prosecution claimed the Prison Service enables thousands of prisoners from various cultures and religions to observe their religious rules, but Rayiq's motion suggests that his wish to eat chametz during Passover supersedes his fellow inmates' right to observe their religion.

 

Unnecessary tensions

It was further claimed that there was no reason to cause tensions among the prisoners during the holiday. The prosecution presented the court with an evaluation from Israel's chief rabbi and the Prison Service's chief rabbi. Both rabbis stressed that serving bread in integrated prison wings may jeopardize the delicate status quo.

 

The Prison Service's chief rabbi, who attended the hearing, claimed that in separated blocs designated for security prisoners the non-Jewish inmates are provided with chametz before the holiday, which they keep throughout.

 

He noted that in criminal quarters where Jews and Arabs reside together the guards do not check prisoners' lockers for chametz.

 

Judge Rubinstein noted that chametz should not be provided in integrated criminal wings for possible halachic and practical difficulties.

 

He noted that a non-Jewish prisoner eating chametz kept in his locker during Passover can do so privately and in a dignified manner, so as not to offend his fellow Jewish cellmates.

 

Judge Eliezer Rivlin, in the minority, stated that one man's right shouldn't offend others' rights to observe their religion since Israel is a democratic country which respects foreigners and their right for religious freedom.

 

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