The easing of restrictions against establishments violating Passover laws in Israel is revealing a new secular mood embodied in a rising political party.
The Baltimore Sun (April 22) reports that while it is illegal to display or openly sell leavened products–such as wheat, barley, oat and rye–in Israel during Passover, this year secular authorities did not dispatch inspectors or levy fines. “The change reflects the growing influence of a determinedly secular party called Shinui, the only part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition government that campaigned promising to separate religion from government affairs,” writes Peter Hermann.
In 1986, Israeli lawmakers approved a law prohibiting business owners from selling leavened products. As recently as last year inspectors fanned out across Jerusalem, issuing tickets to shops where banned food products were visible from public streets. But laws upholding religious restrictions have “gradually eroded over the years, not only in cities such as secular Tel Aviv, but also in Jerusalem, where two-thirds of the Jewish residents describe themselves as observant.”