An internal document from the BIG Fashion mall in Ashdod obtained by Hamodia reveals that, contrary to prior claims, the mall management has been actively pressuring businesses on its premises to stay open on Shabbos.
Until now, BIG has publicly remained neutral concerning the operation of businesses on Shabbos that began a few weeks ago, attracting thousands of shoppers and arousing the vehement protests of the religious community in the city.
But a letter sent out by executive director Boaz Drikus to stores renting space in the mall that urged them to open up on Shabbos belies the management’s pose of neutrality. The letter was passed on to Hamodia by a store owner who received it, along with over a hundred other businesses, on March 26.
An official notice issued by BIG three weeks ago stated that it “is not dictating Shabbos policy, and leaves it to each individual tenant to decide…the mall is merely a host for the businesses, and cannot be blamed for the actions of each according to his conscience.”
In the letter, Drikus reminds them that the mall will be open all day on Shabbos, that BIG is investing a huge amount of money in publicizing it and appeals to them to join in this “one-time oppportunity.”
The store owner who leaked the document testified to the effectiveness of the campaign. “It’s hard to believe,” he said, “but the management is applying massive pressure on us to open on Shabbos, and it’s working. I can definitely say that there are store owners who never considered operating on Shabbos, but who now have done so, or are seriously thinking about it,” due to the pressure of competition and the urgings of management.
A request for comment from BIG regarding the letter was not answered.