A bill to be introduced in the Knesset during the coming winter session which would legalize the operation of restaurants and cultural sites on Shabbos has already stirred controversy.
The proposed legislation is just another attempt “by those in Yesh Atid and the Movement parties to harm Judaism and the entire Jewish world,” said MK Eli Yishai (Shas) on Sunday. “It’s also just another sad attempt by these MKs who are doing poorly in the polls to grab a vote or two in preparation for the next elections.”
Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) and Elazar Stern (Movement) are authoring the bill that would require stores, factories and other places of business to close on Shabbos (with exceptions for pharmacies and the like), while permitting restaurants, theaters, community centers, museums, zoos and other “cultural” institutions to operate without restraint.
Yishai noted that the law currently protects a broad swath of the public, not just a small minority, from the ravages of chillul Shabbos. “Religious and traditional Israelis who do not want to work on Shabbos will have a hard time getting a job, because once these places get a permit, they will open on Shabbos and require their employees to work. Those who refuse won’t get hired.”
The new proposal in response to Interior Minister Gideon Saar’s recent decision to prevent Tel Aviv supermarkets from opening on Shabbos, though it goes far beyond the issue of supermarkets and kiosks, affects Shabbos observance across the entire public domain.
The proposal also would allow franchise holders with authorization from the Transportation Ministry to run on Shabbos.