Bill Proposed to Protect Shabbos-Observant Businesses

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) -
The Sarona neighborhood in Tel Aviv, home to the new Sarona Market, Israel’s largest indoor culinary market. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)
The Sarona neighborhood in Tel Aviv, home to the new Sarona Market, Israel’s largest indoor culinary market. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

After reports on Wednesday about the corporate ownership of a Tel Aviv market fining the management for refusing to operate on Shabbos, a bill was submitted in the Knesset that would make such punitive actions illegal.

The Tel Aviv Religious Council on Tuesday sent a letter to the Gindi Holdings Group that runs the Sarona Market in the city, protesting fines issued by the company against the owner of a kosher store who would not open on Shabbos.

MK Mickey Zohar (Likud) introduced a bill Wednesday that would outlaw this kind of anti-Shabbos coercion, imposing fines on those who flaunt the directive. In addition, business owners would be entitled to file a claim for damages against Shabbos desecraters who harm them financially.

“It is unacceptable that in the Jewish state, where Shabbos is a day of rest, a citizen can be fined for respecting Shabbos observance,” Zohar stated. “This is a despicable act that harms our Jewish identity.”

A letter sent by the religious council, noted that kosher stores in the compound must be closed on Shabbos in order to maintain their kosher certification.

“We were shocked to hear that you demanded that the owner of the store’s permit opening his shop on Shabbos, and that when he refused to do so, you decided to fine him 3,000 shekels (nearly $800) for every Shabbos that his store is closed,” wrote Tel Aviv Religious Council head Eldad Mizrahi to the Gindi company.

“Without elaborating on the value of Shabbos observance, it is unthinkable that there be a situation in which a business owner and his workers are forced to work on the day of rest against their will, their worldview and their conscience, and in opposition to the law concerningwork hours and rest,” Mizrahi wrote.

No response has been received yet from Gindi.