During a Knesset discussion Monday on the fate of supermarket chain Mega, Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman declared that the mismanagement that has led to a situation where some 3,500 workers could be without jobs overnight “could only be caused by people who shamelessly tried to erase Shabbos. David Weissman, the chairman of the organization, has a lot to answer for.”
The final fate of the supermarket chain was postponed by a month, after a Tel Aviv court on Monday granted the chain 30 days of protection from creditors while management searches for a buyer. The circumstances that led to the crash of the second largest supermarket chain in Israel are still being debated, with many accusing the chain’s owners – the Blue Square division of the Dor-Alon Group – of gouging the chain of income in order to put money into the pockets of management and top shareholders.
But in a Knesset discussion earlier Monday on the matter, Health Minister Rabbi Litzman connected the chain’s troubles with its owners’ insistence on violating Shabbos. “Weismann is well known for trying to destroy Shabbos for thousands of families in Israel’s cities, so it is not surprising that he would try to destroy the incomes of thousands of families as well” by mismanaging the chain and bringing it to the brink of financial collapse.
Rabbi Litzman was referring to the infamous AM:PM scandal of several years back, in which a chain of convenience stores in Tel Aviv and other cities remained open seven days a week, in violation of local laws against business activities on Shabbos. In interviews given at the time, Dor Alon executives said that it was worth it for them to keep the stores open and pay the fine, because they were making money anyway.
That greed, said Rabbi Litzman, was what had done Mega in. “The workers are the ones paying, not the management,” he said. “If the chain closes, they [the management] won’t lose a thing. Instead they dump the loss on poor families who are barely making ends meet as it is. I think the time has come for all of us to stand up against what has been going on here, from all perspectives.”