For the second week in a row, hundreds of people are expected to protest outside the home of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai over the continued mass chillul Shabbos in the city, lo aleinu. Tel Aviv, in cooperation with other cities in the metropolitan area last weekend “upgraded” its free transportation service, providing buses instead of the minivans that had been used the week before.
Protesters gathered on Friday night for Kabbalas Shabbos, some holding signs emphasizing how important Shabbos was to the founders of the city. Many had walked for over an hour in order to be present at the protest, coming from a large number of neighborhoods in Tel Aviv. Speaking to Maariv, one activist said that “we are not protesting against Tel Aviv residents and we are not protesting against Tel Aviv. What we are protesting is the deterioration of the concept of the Jewish state into a ‘state of all its citizens.’ We have a responsibility to ensure that this remains a Jewish state.”
While secular groups have praised the Shabbos transportation program, some groups – not all of them observant – have castigated it over the fact that the city is paying all expenses. Several social media groups have popped up over the issue, with members protesting the use of tax money “to fund what is obviously an agenda-driven activity that until now was taken care of [by] private interests,” according to one of the comments among group members.
“The use of tax money to fund a program that not everyone can enjoy is undemocratic, and the mayor has no right to use that money to fund a program just because he thinks it’s a good idea.”
Huldai did not address either the protesters outside his house last week, nor did he address the concerns of those protesting his use of the tax money, protest organizers said.