Diaspora Jews buying Shabbat-violating businesses?

Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi says Jews from overseas buying Shabbat-violating bussiness in order to force shutdown on Jewish day of rest.

Tzvi Lev ,

Rabbi Shlomo Amar (file)
Rabbi Shlomo Amar (file)
Flash 90

Jerusalem's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar revealed that wealthy diaspora Jews are systematically buying businesses that operate on Shabbat in Israel's capital city in order to force a shutdown on the Jewish day of rest.

According to the haredi Kikar Hashabbat website, Rabbi Amar said during his weekly Torah class that "here in Jerusalem, some are inciting to open on Shabbat. Thank God most are not."

"Some Jews came from abroad, and they decided to make a living, God put in their heads to buy all kinds of places that are open on Shabbat," added Rabbi Amar. "They not only shut them down on Shabbat, but they also have kosher kashrut. Gradually, it will increase."

Businesses that operate on Shabbat in Jerusalem have often faced significant opposition from the capital city's haredi population, who say that it offends their religious sensibilities. Proponents of Shabbat commerce say that it provides for the needs of Jerusalem's secular minority.

Under the status quo, restaurants as well as cultural and leisure activities can remain open on Friday night and Saturdays.

Earlier this year, the Jerusalem municipal council passed motion sponsored by the haredi Orthodox parties to close the First Station entertainment and cultural complex on Shabbat. The Esplanade, which features cafes, restaurants, and local music exhibitions, has operated on Shabbat since its reopening in 2012 over fierce haredi protests.

Despite the vote, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat promised that the complex would remain open. “As the person under whose leadership the station was built, Mayor Nir Barkat is certain there will be no change at the station and it will continue to operate according to the status quo in Jerusalem,” a statement from Barkat’s office said.