The rabbonim of the Hadar Ganim and Ganei Hadar neighborhoods of Petach Tikvah from all the different communities; including litvish, chassidish, sephardim and dati leumi, have united with the Chief Rabbi of Petach Tikvah, HaRav Micha Halevi towards safeguarding Kedushas Shabbos.
The initiative was launched in response to ongoing efforts to open the newly-refurbished indoor swimming pool year-round in the neighboring Amishav neighborhood on Shabbos. This, the rabbonim feel is a breach of the religious status quo and would significantly increase Chilul Shabbos in the public sphere.
The rabbonim met with Rav Halevi, and it was decided to launch an effort to increase awareness regarding Chilul Shabbos, emphasizing they must not remain silent and permit this public Chilul Shabbos, or to lend a hand towards legitimizing registering for pool membership.
When asked if one may become a pool member, Rav Halevi ruled one may not and this psak is being accepted by the rabbonim of the above-mentioned neighborhoods as well.
In his letter, Rav Halevi laments the planned widespread public Chilul Shabbos, adding that becoming a member of the pool makes one a partner who aids Chilul Shabbos, adding there is no way to permit such a move.
The rabbonim used their Shabbos sermons to address the matter last week, urging their kehillos to maintain and safeguard Kedushas Shabbos and not to become pool members.
According to Councilman (Yahadut Hatorah) Yisrael Friedman, thousands of new Shomer Shabbos families have moved into Petach Tikvah, and the city funding of the pool was done with the understanding the pool was not going to operate on Shabbos.
He adds that there is a consensus among all the rabbonim, including the ashkenazim, sephardim and dati leumi, and the communities must be encouraged not to purchase pool memberships if the pool is going to operate on Shabbos, for such a move is a “gross violation of the religious status quo in the city”.
The message from City Hall is that the pool has been in existence for years and it has always operated on Shabbos and there is absolutely no change in the religious status quo. It is explained the pool was refurbished and that it operated during the tenure of the previous mayor as well, so there is absolutely nothing new.
In fact, the refurbishing of the pool was completed before the municipal elections. At that time, Friedman asked Mayor Itzik Braverman, who the chareidi party backed, to refrain from reopening it until after elections to avoid a provocation regarding religious issues in Petach Tikvah prior to elections.
Hence, City Hall calls the protests of the religious councilmen and rabbonim “baseless and phony”, as they are all aware of the reality that existed prior to the pool being refurbished, simply to launch an attack on Mayor Rami Greenberg.
Yahadut Hatorah officials insist that Mayor Braverman had agreed that once the pool was closed to be refurbished, it would not reopen again on Shabbos and the current administration is violating this promise.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)