Pulpit rabbis in Tel Aviv are launching a campaign to raise awareness of the value of Shabbat among the city's residents after a resolution was passed by city officials
to begin operating public transportation on the day of rest.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said, “Israel is the only country in the world where public transportation does not operate a quarter of the year, when you take Shabbat and holidays into consideration. What is someone who cannot afford a car supposed to do if they want to visit their family or go to the beach on Shabbat?"
There are private cab and minivan services on Shabbat, available for those who need them. Minister of Transport and Road Safety Yisrael Katz has said he will turn down the Tel Aviv Municipality's request for a license to operate public transport the Sabbath, but court challenges to Israel's "religious status quo," are expected.
However, Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky, who runs the Chabad Center in Tel Aviv, told Arutz Sheva that education rather than political pressure was the answer.
"What we really need today is a revolution in education," Gerlitzky said. "Youngsters in Tel Aviv should know what Shabbat is all about. The problem is that the people don't know what the Shabbat means to the Jewish people."
He does not have to look far for someone who did. Achad Ha'am, the iconic totally secular early Zionist thinker who created "spiritual Zionism" and moved to Tel Aviv in 1922, wrote: "It is not just that the Jewish people kept the Sabbath, it is the Sabbath that kept the Jewish people [alive]".
To achieve understanding of Ahad Ha'am's words today, Gerlitzky says it is necessary "to show the Jewish people the beauty of Shabbat, the importance of Shabbat," adding of the campaign, "That is exactly what we are doing."
"Shabbat brings a blessing to the whole week, and there is no present as precious from Hakadosh Baruch Hu [the Holy One, Blessed be He] like Shabbat," he said "We are bringing the light of Shabbat to Tel Aviv-Yafo."
"We are sure this will bring more Sabbath observance to Tel Aviv, and more unity among the Jewish people of Tel Aviv," he said.
A special brochure signed by the rabbis of Tel Aviv will be sent out to every resident of Tel Aviv explaining how Shabbat is a powerful tool for creating a harmonious, peaceful home and raising great children, good health and prosperity.
"If done correctly," the brochure says, "it brings meaning to your life and fortifies you with the strength and courage to take on the world while retaining an inner peace."
"Some may view it as a prison. But with the proper mix of spirituality, common sense and just keeping the traditions it can be very beautiful. If it's important to you, you do it right."
Shabbat Flyer Tel Aviv Rabbis