The Ministry of Health has instructed hospitals not to allow leavened food (hametz) onto their premises, but despite that many hospitals are not following the decree.
Most of the hospitals do put out signs instructing visitors not to bring in leavened food during Passover, but the majority of them don't check visitors' bags for it, and even if security guards spot hametz, they mostly look the other way.
One of the hospitals' directors said neither patients nor their relatives will have to go through a hametz inspection when arriving at the hospital, and if the need arises, security guards would look the other way.
He added that although in public spaces kashrut will be kept, "we are not spying on people in their own private space, we are not kashrut supervisors."
For example, visitors arriving at Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod and Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon were not asked to leave the leavened food they brought behind.
At the entrance to the biggest new emergency room in Israel—the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer—one can find a big sign that says: "According to hospital instructions, it is forbidden to bring food products onto the hospital premises during Passover," but no one actually checks visitors' bags.
A similar sign is also posted at the entrance to Schneider Children's Medical Center, and visitors reported that even when leavened food was clearly spotted no one stopped them from bringing it in.
Beilinson Hospital at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva also put up signs instructing visitors not to bring in leavened food, but usually no one checks for it at the entrance.
Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center (formerly Assaf Harofeh Medical Center) didn't check for leavened food, nor did it put up any signs.
The Wolfson Medical Center's emergency room is currently being renovated; nevertheless, it has a noticeable multilingual sign asking the public to avoid bringing in food products to the hospital. In practice, no one enforces the regulation.
The Ichilov Hospital at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv also enabled visitors entering through the pedestrian gate as well as through the adjacent Weizmann Center to bring leavened food in without any difficulties.
The Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera posted a big sign instructing the public to avoid bringing in leavened food to the hospital, but the security guards focus their inspections on the security aspect and not on food.
A prominent sign banning outside food was put up at the entrance of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa as well, but visitors coming from the parking lot have been allowed in carrying leavened food practically undisturbed, and only visitors arriving in public transportation are asked to open their bags.
Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem also has a sign up that bars leavened food, but in practice there is no real enforcement.
However, some hospitals do perform an inspection in search of hametz.
The Soroka University Medical Center in Be’er Sheva placed leavened food storage boxes at the entrance, but apart from half a loaf of bread, they have been left empty.
The strict inspection is being done in the maternity ward, where the main visitors being inspected are the Bedouins who are forced to part from their leavened products.
"Isn't throwing the pitas away a huge waste?" asked a Bedouin visitor that was forced to leave her bag at the entrance. The security guard told her that she could have the pita bread back when she leaves.
In response, the Soroka Medical Center said the hospital was acting in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Health, and was doing so in a respectful manner to all visitors. “There is a rich and diverse menu for all patients in the maternity ward, during Passover as well,” the hospital said.
The Secular Forum recently petitioned to the High Court of Justice against the Ministry of Health and the Chief Rabbinate to prevent the ban of leavened food from hospitals during Passover. The state responded this was a reasonable procedure. Ironically, the hearing on the petition is scheduled for after the holiday.
Rotem Elizera, Lior El-Hai, Eitan Glickman, Ilana Curiel and Adi Rosenberg contributed to this story.