Supreme Court: No Bread for Muslim Inmates Over Passover

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal from a Muslim prison inmate who asked to receive bread instead of matza with his meals during the upcoming Passover holiday. Madab Mahmoud Rayik, who is serving time for a criminal offense, is jailed in an integrated prison housing both Arab and Jewish inmates.

Rayik appealed the decision of the district court that the Israel Prisons Service was not obliged to provide him with bread during the holiday. Rayik said he was being forced to eat matza during the holiday even though he is Muslim.

Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said in his ruling that no one disagrees about the importance of bread, but that the state is only obligated to provide inmates with food, not a specific type of food, and that there is no harm in substituting one food for another for a matter of days. "Therefore, there is no legal offense in not providing bread during Passover to wings in which non-Jews reside with Jews in a Jewish and democratic state, especially when a suitable food is being provided," Rubinstein said.

The Israel Prison Service said that facilities with mixed populations are kosher, and that his special request cannot be ranked above that of Jewish inmates who wish to follow the rules of their faith, which forbids the consumption of leavened bread over the holiday that begins at sunset on Monday.

The Prisons Service also noted that Passover lasts only eight days, and it would be imprudent to create tension between the inmates.