A bill proposed by Hatnua MK Elazar Stern and approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation to allow restaurants open on Shabbat to obtain a kashrut license has been blocked by the Bayit Yehudi party.
According to a source within the national-religious faction, it was blocked because it conflicted with Jewish law by encouraging people to break Shabbat.
The source said that Bayit Yehudi also opposed the bill on grounds of social welfare by obliging restaurant staff to work on Shabbat instead of enjoying a day of rest.
Currently, local rabbinates only give a kashrut license to restaurants, catering companies and other food-provision services if they close on Shabbat. Businesses must choose between serving customers during the week who only eat at places with kosher certification, or opening on Shabbat thereby driving away patrons who demand a hechsher.
Stern’s bill would make the only requirement for kosher certification serve kosher food and deal with any complications in Jewish law arising from preparing food on Shabbat without supervision.
“The Bayit Yehudi party continues to represent the most extreme positions in Judaism,” Stern said about the decision to block his bill.
“I’m sorry that a party that said it would represent the moderate voice of Judaism during its election campaign [defers to] the conservative stream of the national-religious community and the haredi parties, and continues to distance the Israeli public from Judaism.”
Separately, the pluralist Tikkun movement scheduled a conference in Jerusalem on Thursday to debate the political, societal, economic and environmental importance of Shabbat.
Tikun chairman Dr. Meir Buzaglo of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem noted increased public discussion over the issue of Shabbat, after a controversial decision by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to prevent Tel Aviv from implementing a municipal bylaw permitting grocery stores to open on Shabbat.
“Two processes have made the debate on Shabbat more relevant than ever,” Buzaglo said. “The first is the refreshing new spirit of Jewish renewal, and the second is the erosion of the rights of the employee to Shabbat as a day of rest which has turned Shabbat into a day of consumerism.”