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According to Jewish law during the week-long holiday of Passover Jews must not possess, much less eat, bread or other products with leaven in them.

But in Tel Aviv, where the majority of Jewish residents are non-observant, tons of restaurants have always served the forbidden foodstuffs.

They used to get away with it. Now they're facing (dum, dum, dum) the bread cops.

With the new government of Ariel Sharon in power the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas party has been placed in charge of the Interior Ministry. And those Orthodox mensches are enforcing the edict, even if you don't agree with it.

Explaining the raids, Itzik Sudri, spokesman for the Interior Minister, said, "This law exists to safeguard the Jewish character of the state, and we intend to enforce it."

At Cafe Alexander a popular Tel Aviv restaurant, the Men in Black aka the bread-inspectors entered the restaurant, checked for bread on diners' plates, confiscated a roll as incriminating evidence (even though this mere handaling of the bread places them in conflict with the law) and fined the Cafe Alexander 100 shekels, about $25.

The owner of the cafe told army radio that he would not pay the fine "as a matter of principle." Others laughed off the fine, a minuscule part of their illicit profits.

The alternative to not serving bread is to close for the week instead of going through the lengthy and expensive process of cleaning facilities (an anal-retentive process that demands that even bread-crumbs must be removed) to rabbinical specifications and coming up with a Passover-friendly menu.

The intense enforcement of the no-bread law came has angered Shaul Yahalom a member of the Orthodox Jewish National Religious Party, one of the original sponsors of the law back in 1993. He said it applies only to restaurants and stores displaying bread products in their windows, not to cafes serving them inside.

Yahalom is afraid that the inspectors' raids will deepen the already significant rift between observant and secular Jews. He said the raids "would not convince a single person to observe more religious laws."
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Taken and edited from an Associated Press uncredited wire story.

Update

enwhysea says: you might want to leave an update note, the law has been changed and it's perfectly legal to sell Hametz during passover now.

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