A broad spectrum of religious leaders in Ashdod have launched a nationwide campaign to bring to a halt the operation of the BIG shopping mall on Shabbos.
In a meeting convened by Rabbanim of the city, chassidishe leaders and representatives of various other groups, a series of measures were decided on Monday, including a call for investors in the BIG chain and its backers to withdraw their funds immediately, and a consumer boycott of all BIG outlets throughout Israel.
A proclamation will be made in all the batei knesses in Ashdod next Shabbos for a mass tefillah during the week. It will be held at a central location in the city to demand an end to the outrageous chillul Shabbos created by the mall over the past several weeks. Subsequent tefillah rallies will be held on Shabbos to continue the protest.
Participants in the meeting included the Rebbes of Meilitz, Pittsburgh, Shomrei Emunim, and Talna; Rabbi Shmuel Dovid HaKohen Gross, Rabbi Chaim Pesach Horowitz, and many others. The meeting was organized by the chairman of the Mishmeres Shabbos of Ashdod, Rabbi Yona Erlich.
The Rabbanim reiterated their demand addressed to the BIG management to cease operations on Shabbos, and called upon the mayor of Ashdod, Yechiel Laseri, and the city council members of all parties to do everything possible to end the desecration.
Rabbi Gross, representing chassidei Gur, opened the meeting with a survey of the situation. He lamented that ”a new era” has begun of massive chillul Shabbos, in which thousands of shoppers are coming to the BIG mall in Ashdod where many of the 140 stores are now doing business on Shabbos.
Since the motive for this is profit, he said, the shomer Shabbos community has no choice but to respond with sanctions aimed at hurting those sought-after profits.
Speaking on behalf of the mosdos harabbanim, Rabbi Moshe Lefkowitz told the assembled that well-known bodies such as Bank Hapoalim, Migdal, and a long list of pension and investment funds, who base themselves on relations with the chareidi sector, are providing financial backing to BIG on a large scale.
In view of these facts, said Rabbi Lefkowitz, the management of BIG and its various investors cannot ignore such a boycott.