As a result of the increase in chilul Shabbos in Ashdod in the ‘Big’ shopping center there is a coalition crisis in City Hall. The chareidi parties in the city coalition have turned to Mayor Dr. Yechiel Lasri insisting that he take immediate action to enforce the law that prohibits opening the stores in the shopping center on Shabbos.
Yahadut Hatorah officials in the city point an accusing finger at the mayor, insisting he is not keeping his word regarding the religious status quo in the city. Shas party officials in the city council are angered too, and they are meeting to discuss how to deal with the situation. Shas has already threatened to break away from the coalition. The chareidi councilmen explain that for as long as the shopping center operates on Shabbos they cannot cooperate with the mayor and this means he will no longer enjoy a majority in the coalition. They add their real fear is the current situation will lead to widespread chilul Shabbos.
The daily Hamodia reports that the management of the shopping center has signed to a letter that has been distributed to 100 storeowners, explaining a great deal of money has been invested to advertise the opening on Shabbos, which the management of the mall is confident can lead to a fiscal success. Hamodia points out that the letter represents a turning point as the mall’s management is now endorsing mass chilul Shabbos.
Rabbonim of the Vaad Shabbos are addressing the problem, which they feel is quite serious. They explain gedolei yisrael have stressed the need to act to prevent a breakdown in the religious Shabbos status quo. Rabbonim in Ashdod are alarmed over the publication of the letter by Big Mall officials, warning if the elements backing the chilul Shabbos succeed in Ashdod, the trend will spread to other cities.
Rabbonim in the city are calling on City Hall and Big mall management to retract the letter and back down from the planned mass chilul Shabbos in the city.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)