Israeli Supreme Court: Muslim Inmates Won’t Receive Chometz During Pesach


elyakim-rubensteinIsraeli Supreme Court justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Edna Arbel have rejected an appeal filed by a Muslim inmate against a district court decision not to provide him with fresh bread during Pesach.Madabe Mahmoud Rayiq, serving a prison sentence in an integrated section which includes Jews and Muslims, requested in his petition to be allowed to receive bread during Pesach since there was no Israeli law imposing kashrus in state facilities.

He claimed that according to the halacha, a non-Jew subject to Jewish authority is allowed to eat chometz during Pesach and denying him that violates his basic rights.

The prosecution claimed the Prison Service enables thousands of prisoners from various cultures and religions to observe their religious rules, but Rayiq’s motion suggests that his wish to eat chometz during Pesach supersedes his fellow inmates’ right to observe their religion.

It was further claimed that there was no reason to cause tensions among the prisoners during the Yom Tov. The prosecution presented the court with an evaluation from Israel’s chief rabbi and the Prison Service’s chief rabbi. Both rabbis stressed that serving bread in integrated prison wings may jeopardize the delicate status quo.

┬áThe Prison Service’s chief rabbi, who attended the hearing, claimed that in separated blocs designated for security prisoners the non-Jewish inmates are provided with chometz before the Yom Tov, which they keep throughout.

He noted that in criminal quarters where Jews and Arabs reside together the guards do not check prisoners’ lockers for chometz.

Judge Rubinstein noted that chometz should not be provided in integrated criminal wings for possible halachic and practical difficulties.

He noted that a non-Jewish prisoner eating chometz kept in his locker during Pesach can do so privately and in a dignified manner, so as not to offend his fellow Jewish cellmates.

Judge Eliezer Rivlin, in the minority, stated that one man’s right shouldn’t offend others’ rights to observe their religion since Israel is a democratic country which respects foreigners and their right for religious freedom.

{Ynet/Yair Newscenter}