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Cabinet to Decide on New Chametz Law

Gov't is discussing whether to support a bill that would ban any public display of chametz on Passover. MK Schneller ties bill to 'peace' process.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/17/2010, 1:06 PM / Last Update: 1/17/2010, 1:17 PM

Flash 90

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is currently debating whether or not to support a bill that would make the display of chametz foodstuffs in any public space illegal during the Pesach (Passover) holiday.

The change would widen the scope of the prohibition on displaying chametz to include the interiors of stores. It would amend the present Chametz Law, which says that “the owner of a business will not display in public a chametz product for sale or consumption” by changing the words “in public” [Hebrew/Aramaic befumbi – ed.] to “in a public place” [bemakom tziburi].

The approval of a bill by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation means that the coalition MKs will support it, thus greatly increasing its chance of being written into law by the Knesset. 

The bill's explanatory notes say that “the court's definition of the word 'befumbi', which is only used to denote sale from a stand that is situated in the public domain, distorts the legislators' intention and creates an absurd situation in which chametz can be displayed in a large store, like a supermarket, where thousands of people pass, but sale of pitas or beigalehs [soft pretzels - ed.] from a stand in a dark alleyway is forbidden.”

The bill's initiator, MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), explained Saturday evening that the new change is not a new form of "religious coercion," as “the Chametz Law is a Jewish law and not a religious one." He said that the state's "Jewish character is a certificate of insurance to its existence and a justification for advancing a diplomatic solution in the region.