‘Short Week’ Idea May Not Work

A proposal to put Israel on a shortened work week, with Friday a half-day and Sunday a vacation day, may be buried before it gets off the ground.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 12:33

Hareidi religious man at work
Hareidi religious man at work
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A proposal to put Israel on a shortened work week, with Friday a half-day and Sunday a vacation day, may be buried before it gets off the ground.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed on a Knesset committee to discuss the proposal by Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, but it quickly ran into opposition from Arab Knesset Members and Shas party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

The current work week in Israel usually is Sunday through Thursday, although many also work half a day on Friday. Declaring Sunday a non-work day would enable observant Jews to attend activities and go on vacation and buying trips, which are prohibited on the Sabbath. However, it also would mean less education and learning of Jewish studies, a principle of the religious community.

Shalom argued that introducing a “long weekend” is desirable because it is adopted by “developed world states.” Part of Israel’s character as a Jewish state is its focus on religious education and adopting Western culture without its overtaking Jewish values.

His plans would require longer school hours and a longer work day from Monday through Thursday, besides the half-day on Friday, in order to compensate for the lost hours from not working on Sunday. The Histadrut national labor union said the proposed change has many advantages but also just as many disadvantages, one of them being the complex agreements with employers and the government on the work week.

The Shas party is against Jews having to work more hours on Friday, the day when preparations are made for the Sabbath, and the proposal also would affect Muslims, whose holy day of rest is Friday.

“Israel is in the Middle East, not Europe. We see this proposal as political and nonsensical. It’s part of this government’s attempt to harm everything connected to the Arab population in Israel,” said United Arab MK Taleb a-Sanaa.




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