Observant Jews in Israel recently had the feeling of waking up on third base. In
late June the Supreme Court ruled that the Tel Aviv municipality would have to
do more than go through the motions in enforcing its 1980 bylaw prohibiting
businesses from opening on the Jewish Sabbath. Religiously observant Jews were
pleasantly surprised since they have generally not received much joy from the
judicial system or from the Attorney General’s Office.But before this
morphs into a test case of religious freedom on the order of the Women of the
Wall kerfuffle, it should be noted that the Orthodox were not the plaintiffs.
The suit was filed by mom-and-pop grocery store owners whom the supermarket
scofflaws were driving out of business. Supermarkets in Tel Aviv would open for
business on the Sabbath, knowing that when an inspector called they would
receive a slap on the wrist in the form of a $200 fine. The daily sales volume
made the payment of such a niggardly amount a veritable bargain.