The Vaad L’Shmiras Shabbos in Haifa has sent letters to the mayor, Egged and other city officials calling for the cessation of the nighttime bus service which operates on Shabbos.
The bus service operates during the wee hours of the night on Friday nights [and other nights] in the hope of persuading the youth to rely on the buses and not attempt to operate motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol.
In the letter, the rabbonim write the bus service sets a dangerous precedent, since it may encourage other cities to attempt to launch similar services, thereby resulting in widespread chilul Shabbos by the public transportation company.
The head of Agudas Yisrael in Haifa, Rav Aryeh Blitental is quoted by the daily Yisrael HaYom as saying it is worse, pointing out the offer of the bus service serves to encourage youth to go out and desecrate the Shabbos.
The effort in Haifa coincides with the introduction of a bill in Knesset seeking to permit public transportation in Israel on Shabbos.
City Hall officials responding to the request point out that “due to the unique status quo established in Haifa since 1948 [between Jews and Arabs], there has been public transportation in the city,” adding the nighttime service does not reflect any changes in the city’s status quo and the service does save many lives by preventing many accidents.
Rav Blitental explains he is not deterred, adding the letter campaign was a first step, vowing to continue efforts towards preventing the buses from running on Shabbos in Haifa.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)