A well-known Jewish joke details a delegation to Mars that was prevented by the locals (Martians) from lighting a match to discern whether there was oxygen there. The little green men later explained to the astronauts that they had been offended such an experiment could take place on Shabbat! Jokes are sometimes just another way to describe reality, and as a high-ranking official at the municipality’s culture department put it recently, the issue of Shabbat in Jerusalem – or better yet, the issue of desecrating Shabbat in the Holy City – is far from being resolved.

Indeed, despite the city being directed by a secular mayor, with a shrinking and very weakened haredi representation in his coalition, the battle for Shabbat is never-ending. But this time, there is a new group – formed by some city councilmen from the United Torah Judaism list, and backed by haredi activists – trying to reopen the issue, even in venues that have been open on Shabbat for a long time.

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