Now, Reuters reports, "Orthodox Jews protest over 'evil' Passover ruling." Background last week,
Bread sales at Passover in Israel outrage Orthodox Jews
By Beth Marlowe, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM --An Israeli court has ruled that shops can sell leavened bread during Passover in violation of Jewish religious law, deepening tensions between observant and secular Jews ahead of the weeklong holiday.
The ruling comes as good news for businesses selling bread and other leavened products during the holiday, which begins Saturday night.
But Orthodox Jewish groups say that it violates the spirit of what Israel is meant to be -- a Jewish state. They are threatening to hold demonstrations at establishments selling pizza, bread and other leavened products.
"The argument is not about the law," said Yehuda Meshi-Zehav, a spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox community. "It's about people trying to keep Israel as a Jewish country, and people trying to make it the opposite."
A central aspect of Passover is the biblical ban on eating bread or other foods that take time to rise, in commemoration of the hasty exodus from Egypt by the ancient Israelites escaping slavery under the Pharaoh.
But many Israeli Jews don't follow the strict laws. Some stock up on bread before the holiday, and secular Jews insist on their right to buy and eat whatever they want in public.
In 1986, Orthodox Jewish political parties pushed a law through the parliament banning the sale of bread products in public places.
But earlier this month, a Jerusalem court threw out fines slapped on four Jerusalem businesses last Passover by arguing that stores and restaurants do not constitute "public" establishments and are therefore not bound by the law.
The owner of Chili's, one such restaurant, said she has arranged for extra security and insurance to protect her establishment in case protests get out of hand. Allison Lahav said she has received "a thinly veiled threat" in a letter from one group.
Though she plans to serve bread, she said she would be discreet by not offering outdoor seating and keeping bread away from the windows.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, called on secular Jews on Thursday to show understanding.
"Please consider the feelings of the religious community," he said on Israel TV. "Don't put bread products under their noses."
At least half of all Israeli Jews will forgo bread products this Passover, according to pollster Camil Fuchs, a professor of statistics at Tel Aviv University. Secular Jews may abstain because of family tradition, or simply because it's hard to find.
"You have to make a statement in order to eat bread," he said. "You have to make the effort.