Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, has written a letter to the city’s mayor, Ron Huldai, imploring him to reconsider a proposal to legalize the opening of hundreds of businesses on Shabbos.
Rabbi Lau warned that such a decision, if implemented, would lead to the destruction of Shabbos observance in Israel’s largest city.
In addition, he pointed out that it would harm small businesses, drive religious workers away from those stores operating on Shabbos, and deprive children of their parents on the holy day, since many will go to work or go shopping, instead of being home with their children.
In a personal appeal, Rabbi Lau wrote that he and his wife, who was born in Tel Aviv, chose to make their home in the city, and that he has served as its chief rabbi for some 14 years.
“I have never approached you with a request of any kind,” he wrote. “I am breaking with my custom because the outcry of Shabbos is bursting from my heart.”
Rabbi Lau went on to describe the centrality of Shabbos in Jewish tradition, noting also that Tel Aviv has officially kept Shabbos from the time of its founding, 105 years ago.
On March 3, the municipality voted to put before the city council a measure to authorize about 300 businesses to remain open on Shabbos.