Amid protest, US reverses Shabbat launch of business relief fund

Following criticism from Jewish business owners, federal aid program for entertainment industry won't launch on the Sabbath.

Andrew Silow-Carroll, JTA ,

Theater balcony (stock)
Theater balcony (stock)

A federal grants program for the entertainment industry moved the relaunch of its applications portal from Saturday to Monday, after observant Jews and others complained that the Saturday plan put them at a disadvantage for the billions in funding.

The Small Business Administration announced the new date late Friday afternoon, shortly before the start of the Jewish Sabbath on the east coast.

“We heard you and we are taking action,” read the tweet. “In response to stakeholder feedback about reopening the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application this weekend, the application portal will now reopen on Monday, April 26 at 12pm ET.”

The grants provide relief for theaters, clubs, cinemas and cultural arts groups that had to close due to the coronavirus. The original launch of the program was delayed after the SBA’s website crashed on April 8.

In a followup tweet, the SBA said, “[W]e understand the challenges a weekend opening would bring and to ensure the greatest number of businesses can apply for these funds, we decided to reschedule. We remain committed to delivering economic aid to this hard-hit sector quickly and efficiently.”