Friday, April 04, 2008

Israeli Court Gives Narrow Interpretation To "Hametz Law"

As the Jewish holiday of Passover approaches later this month, an Israeli court-- the Jerusalem Municipal Affairs Court-- has quashed indictments against four private businesses that had been indicted for selling leavened products during Passover last year. In State of Israel v. Terminal 21, (Jer. Munic. Ct., Apr. 3, 2008), the court gave a narrow interpretation to Israel's Festival of Matzot (Prohibition of Leaven) Law, 5746-1986, (also known as the "Hametz Law"). The law provides that during Passover, "the owner of a business shall not publicly display any leavened product for sale or consumption." Arutz Sheva (which also quotes the full text of the law) and the Jerusalem Post report on the decision. Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Tsaban wrote:

The violation of the prohibition to the public display of hametz relates only to the display of hametz in a public place. Thus, for example, a table set up in the public commons fulfills this requirement of the law. Which cannot be said for the display of hametz, for sale or consumption, in a closed place of business.
Religious Affairs Minister Yitzchak Cohen and National Religious Party head Zevulun Orlev both called for the Attorney General to appeal the decision.

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