Haredi Shabbat protest in Jerusalem (file)
Haredi Shabbat protest in Jerusalem (file) Matanya Tausig/Flash 90

The “struggle for Shabbat” is likely to make a comeback in Jerusalem this week, as haredi groups plan a mass protest and prayer service in the Meah Shearim neighborhood, over the opening of a movie theater complex scheduled for Shabbat.

Flyers poster around Jerusalem urged haredim to come out to protest.

“For too long, those who would breach the holiness of the Holy City and desecrate its Sabbaths have had their way, until now the fabric of holiness of Jerusalem is rent asunder. It is our obligation to shout aloud our opposition to the opening of places of entertainment on Shabbat,” posters read.

At issue is the expected operation on Shabbat of the new YES Planet movie theater, which was inaugurated in a gala event this week. The 16-screen theater is located in the Abu Tor neighborhood, in the southern part of Jerusalem. Abu Tor is a mixed religious-secular neighborhood far removed from haredi areas, concentrated mostly in the northern part of the city.

While businesses in the Sherover Complex, where the theater is located, will likely not open because of existing laws against the operation of businesses on Shabbat, the theater itself is expected to operate. In posters and flyers distributed Thursday, organizers of the protest – which will include a mass outdoor prayer service on Friday night – said that “we cannot accept the bitter reality of the monster that is consuming the holiness of the Holy City.

Thus we have decided to bring all those who fear the Word of G-d together to express our opposition to this. We hope that our actions will help to shore up the breach that has been caused by the recent desecrations of the Sabbath, both in this and other cases, in which buses have begun to run before the end and after the entry of the Sabbath, and other labor has been done in the same manner.”

Affixing his signature as a backer of the event was Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, who said that “Jerusalem will not rest or remain quiet as the Sabbath is violated on a greater scale in recent months. The haredi and religious public will not allow the holiness of the Sabbath, as well as the status quo, to be erased in this manner. This is one of the severest violations of the Sabbath in recent years.”