Demonstrators rally
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Hametz law sparks protests in Jerusalem

Court decision to allow sale of leavened bread during Passover draws hundreds of Haredim to demonstrate in Jerusalem. On secular side: 10 people from Tel Aviv

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis demonstrated on Tuesday in Jerusalem's Sabbath Square, in protest against the court's ruling in favor of the sale of leavened bread during Passover. Facing them were only ten secular Jews, most of them from Tel Aviv, demonstrating in favor of the ruling. The seculars waved banners with anti-haredi slogans, and three of the demonstrators were detained by the police and later released. 


About 3,500 men gathered in Jerusalem's main ultra-Orthodox neighborhood to pray and listen to rabbis warn that selling leavened food during Passover in contravention of Jewish law risked bringing destruction upon the city they regard as holy.


Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss compared those who eat leavened bread during the holiday to the wicked son in the Passover Haggadah, and said: "We need to speak out, because for the first time in 60 years, during which we have had a Jewish State, a law has been passed which harms the very soul of the Israeli people."


Rabbi Amram Hoffman cried, "Brothers and sisters, are you not Jewish? Does this not bother you? Leavened bread on Passover will cause the destruction of Jerusalem. If you don't cry out over this, Jerusalem will no longer be ours."  

Meah Shearim residents protesting. (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


The secular Jews planned to make their way over to the haredi demonstration, but were stopped by Border Guard officers. When they asked by what right the officers were preventing them from demonstrating they were answered that those were the orders they received. The officers then prevented them from leaving the city's center.


One of the secular demonstrators admitted that those wishing to buy leavened bread on Passover could do so with ease, and explained that the issue was a principle. "It's time religion was put in its place and everyone will be allowed to do as they please," he said. "The country and its institutions must be free of religion."


One of the passers by, a student living in Jerusalem, told Ynet he supported the demonstration, and explained, "Everything began with a provocation by Jerusalem's Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who sent inspectors last year to check for stores selling leavened bread. If not for this, most people would never have known about it being sold in Jerusalem."


פרסום ראשון: 04.22.08, 21:13
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