Supreme Court okays Sabbath desecration in Tel Aviv

The Supreme Court approves the Tel Aviv by-law allowing the opening of 160 supermarkets and kiosks on Shabbat.

Reut Hadar ,


Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor and Justices Esther Hayut and Dafna Barak-Erez ruled unanimously that the Tel Aviv municipal by-laws are reasonable and that a permit can be given to Tel Aviv supermarkets to open on Shabbat. The judges rejected petitions submitted by businessmen against the proposed by-law.

"The special and different status of Shabbat represents the national Jewish culture as well as important social values. Despite this, the status quo includes an important democratic element -namely local democracy which allows the more precise expression of the different characteristics of each town and community."

The judges stated in their ruling that the municipality did not need to wait for Interior Minister Deri to approve the by-law and it could be published immediately. Judge Hayut criticized the government for not deciding on the matter and stated that "after the long and drawn-out period of two-and-a-half years in which the various interior ministers and the government have not taken a decision on the matter, it must inevitably be concluded that the government intends to invalidate the by-law without reason. This unexplained position cannot be maintained and is null and void," wrote Chayut.

The judges also stated that the ruling does not contradict the Hours of Work and Rest Law, since this pertains to the labor relations within businesses regarding work on Shabbat whereas the present by-law refers to the activity of businesses without reference to the identity of the workers. Those businesses which are now permitted to work on Shabbat are still required to maintain the directives of the Hours of Work and Rest Law.