UTJ pushes 'Kiddush Law' to permit nighttime alcohol sales

Proposal would permit sale of some alcoholic beverages at supermarkets even late at night.

Haim Lev ,

Wine (illustrative)
Wine (illustrative)

The haredi United Torah Judaism party has presented a bill to the Knesset plenum which, if passed, would roll back some restrictions on late-night sales of alcohol in Israel.

Under the present law, alcohol sales are prohibited in all retail stores after 11:00 p.m.

The law, which is intended to reduce public drunkenness, has also had the unintended effect of making grocery shopping ahead of Shabbat more difficult.

Many supermarkets remain open late Thursday night, allowing shoppers too busy during the day to make their purchases for Shabbat – including wine used to sanctify (Kiddush) the Jewish holy day.

With the ban on nighttime alcohol sales, however, many shoppers are unable to purchase the necessary wine during their Thursday night shopping.

To alleviate this inconvenience, three MKs from the United Torah Judaism party have proposed a partial removal of the prohibition.

According to the bill, drafted by MKs Moshe Gafni, Uri Maklev, and Yaakov Asher, wine and grape juice (which is also prohibited along with wine after 11:00, despite being non-alcoholic) could be sold by large retailers even at night.

“In recent years,” the bill reads, “in order to make shopping easier for people who work or study during the day, supermarkets have begun to extend their hours late into the night, especially on Thursday and on the eve of holidays. In light of this, we propose to add an exception to the law, according to which wine sold at large retail chains would not be considered as alcohol sales with regards to this law.”

Sale of other alcoholic beverages, like vodka and whiskey, would remain prohibited after 11:00 p.m.