Givatayim became the second Israeli city to pass an addendum to a municipal By-Law that will allow certain businesses in the city, such as local markets and food stands, to remain open on Shabbos. The city council passed the addendum one day ahead of the expected vote in the Knesset regarding a national law that would have prevented such a addendum being passed by the city. Rishon Letzion passed a similar addendum last week.
According to the addendum, any business that wishes to remain open on Shabbos will have to fulfill a set of criteria that will be weighed by city council such as; How far the business is away from Synagogues, and would the business’s being open cause a disruption to religious residents of the city.
Givatayim’s Mayor Ron Kunick said: “Whenever the issue of religion arises it is not an easy one, it is sensitive and often highly emotional. Any topic that deals with the emotions of the residents it is always complicated and will lead to discussion and conflict among the residents. Local municipal heads were not contacted with regards to the pushing forward of “Supermarket Law” in spite of sending a request to the Minister in charge of the law. That letter went unanswered. I personally met with religious leaders of the city, many of whom I have very close ties with, and the expressed to me their concern that certain businesses such as bars, movie theaters and cafes would remain open on Shabbat. However, many of these businesses have already received exemptions to be open regardless of the new law.
This new “Supermarket Law’ is a bad one which will hurt everyone. The main crux of the law is that the decision whether places of business can be open on Shabbos will be taken out of the hands of the municipal councils and placed into the hands of the Interior Minister. A new minister may be appointed every two years, thus allowing for a new law t change the status quo every two years. The current state of the law comes to force a religious way of life upon the secular residents of the country, something which is not fair for the secular residents of Givatayim, who form the majority of the city. We will not agree to any form of religious coercion. We wish to maintain the current status quo in our city.”
The “Supermarket Law” which the coalition is pushing through the Knesset, allows a municipal governing body to make a change to the law permitting businesses to be open on Shabbos only after obtaining the permission of the Interior Minister. With that, the Interior Minister and national government may not alter an already existing addendum to a municipal law that allows businesses to be open on Shabbos.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)