Religious vs. secular
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Haredim protest bread sales, last year
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Leavened food sold during Passover
Photo: Niv Calderon

Jerusalem businesses warned not to sell bread on Passover

Ahead of Passover, haredi community sends letters to 80 stores, restaurants in capital planning to offer leavened food during Jewish holiday. Head of Committee for Sanctity of Shabbat: Some are responding, but demonstrations are on their way

Bread wars are back: The ultra-Orthodox community's Court of Justice and the Committee for Sanctity of Shabbat in Jerusalem recently sent warning letters to 80 businesses in the capital planning to sell leavened food during the Passover holiday, Ynet has learned.


The business owners were urged to come to their senses and refrain from desecrating the Jewish holiday, but committee sources estimated that demonstrations would take place over this issue this year as well.


The Court of Justice wrote to the Jerusalem businesses: "With great pain and anxiety we heard a bad rumor that you are planning to sell leavened food products during the upcoming Passover holiday, and we were extremely shocked by this. Therefore, we are appealing to your Jewish heart.


"Had you know how severe this was, you would certainly not lend your hand to it. And all the more so, when for thousands of years our forefathers sacrificed their souls, literally, in order not to fail and eat leavened food…


"And now you are, God forbid, about to desecrate the Torah and the memory of your forefathers, who were tortured by the gentiles over this.


"At the last minute, we beg you: Please, don't do this act, which cuts you off from the Jewish people, and don't kick your forefathers' God, and definitely don’t sell leavened food in public."


The business owners were warned that "the punishment for the blasphemy expected to hit the holy city is extremely severe, and you will be the only ones responsible for this."


"At the last minute, refrain from doing this and declare that you will not burn your souls for a one-moment pleasure as well as for a financial profit," the Court of Justice members concluded. "This money will most likely not go to things you'll enjoy, and who knows where it will go."


Personal warning

Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld, head of the Committee for Sanctity of Shabbat, told Ynet that he had visited each of the dozens of stores and restaurants expected to sell bread on Passover and handed the letter to their owners.


"Some of them are responding here and there, but the haredi community members will hold demonstrations together with us this year as well," he said.


"I would like to believe that they will all become believer by then and won't open the stores in Jerusalem, but I have no doubt that we will eventually see the same riots that took place in the city after the court permitted the sale of leavened food in public.


Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban sparked a row last year when she ruled that despite the prohibition by law to sell leavened food in public during Passover, stores are permitted to do so. The justice instructed the legal system to annul indictments filed against four restaurant owners in Jerusalem who were accused of violating the "matzah law" by selling bread during Passover.


The judge ruled that a store cannot be denied as a "public" place by law, as it is a closed compound.


The State said during the court hearing that "in a city where many of the citizens are not only Jewish but religious, and most of the council members are not only Jewish but religious, mutual respect justifies abiding by the law. Not to mention the fact that leavened food is permitted in Arab neighborhoods in the city.


Attorney General Menachem Mazuz later confirmed the ruling, saying that leavened food can be sold during Passover, but not openly.


פרסום ראשון: 03.24.09, 12:57
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