The Battle to Come? Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa Requests That City’s Future Light Rail Run on Shabbos


Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai has made a statement that may very well become the next big battle for Shomrei Shabbos Jews in Israel, saying “there is no way” for Tel Aviv’s new light rail to not run on Shabbos.

The remark came during a ceremony by NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd., who was displaying a model of the future light rail cars that will become a major mode of public transportation in Israel’s most populated city. The ceremony took place on Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of the city.

“In 2021 we will inaugurate the light rail in Tel Aviv and cut the ribbon on the new light-rail system as the first cars begin to transport the public from place to place,” Huldai said. “There is no way that we can run a project of this size without operating it seven days a week and giving the public the opportunity to travel the city on Shabbat as well.”

Huldai continued and compared the future light-rail to a Shabbos elevator, explaining that it should be permissible by all standards. “I sincerely hope that the light-rail will be allowed to run on Shabbos like these things do in the rest of the world. We have the technological capabilities that will allow the light-rail to run without a driver making it similar to a Shabbos elevator. Finally, this will allow the residents of the city to have a public transportation system that can run on Shabbos as it should be.”

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) who also attended the event responded vociferously to Huldai’s comments. “Regarding the issue of Shabbat, I hope for you that when the light-rail opens that you wills till be mayor. I most likely will no longer be the Transportation Minister, but I can assure you that you will need to follow the rules of the Ministry when you make the decision to run the light-rail on Shabbat or not.”

The two politicians argued back and forth for some time, with Huldai blaming Katz for not having public transportation available on Shabbat already in the city. Huldai responded by stating that his Ministry is following the rules set out for it by the government and high-court decisions on the matter.

The NTA is the company responsible for the design and construction of the mass transit light-rail system for the Tel Aviv metropolis. It is a government company founded in 1997 for the purpose of providing appropriate solutions for the metropolis’ transit problems. The newly planned mass transit system in the Gush Dan region, of which the light-rail is a part, is the largest and most complex transportation project ever executed in Israel.

The NTA chose today to display the newly styled light-rail cars that are being constructed for the project by a Chinese company b the name of CRC, in order to hear reactions from the public and see where improvements can be made.The display will be open and the public is invited to come and look at the light-rail car throughout the upcoming holiday season. The display will be open on weekdays from 15:00 -22:00 and on Fridays from 10:00 – 16:00. On Chol Hamoed Sukkos it will be open from 10:00 – 22:00.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)