There is one thing about life in the Diaspora that just about every Anglo
immigrant to this country misses: Sunday as a day off from
Unfortunately, we’re not going to get “Sundays” here in Israel any
time soon. Vested industry and labor interests, along with officials of the
Finance Ministry, always have colluded to kill efforts to make Sunday a vacation
Natan Sharansky (when he was minister of industry and trade), and
Silvan Shalom (when he was deputy prime minister), both tried and failed to set
Sundays as a day off. Naftali Bennett, the new Economy Minister, recently talked
about Sundays off, too, but the idea stands no chance.
And yet, we have
to do something to create more leisure time. Everybody works at three or more
jobs, around-the-clock, all-thetime, just to make ends meet.
creates a serene, spiritual rest space, but for the traditional public it
doesn’t allow for sports, travel and entertainment; and even for the
non-Orthodox public, it’s just not enough. This intense country needs more time
to chill out.
My solution: The Once-a- Month-Long-Weekend. This is the
perfect construct for a revolution in Israeli civic holidays.
In lieu of
Sundays, we should mandate one long weekend each month by taking a Thursday off.
This would be similar to the US and Canada, where they take Mondays off once a
Former tourism minister Stas Meseznikov was on to this when he
proposed to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last year that
Independence Day always be celebrated on a Thursday, instead of falling on a
different day of the week each year.
He sought to create a four-day
Remembrance Day and Independence Day weekend, Wednesday through Saturday – which
is way it worked out so wonderfully in 2012.
We already monkey with the
dates of Remembrance and Independence days by moving them forward to avoid
Shabbat violations (from Sunday-Monday to Monday-Tuesday, as we did this year).
So why not go one step further? Why not mark them every year on a Wednesday and
Thursday? I suggest that we mark all modern commemorations as civic holidays on
For example, Jerusalem Liberation Day falls three weeks from
now on a Wednesday.
At present, it’s not a mandatory civic holiday, and
as a result nobody pays any attention to it except for religious- Zionist school
kids and Hesder yeshiva boys.
But were Jerusalem Day to be celebrated as
a set civic holiday on Thursday at the opening of a long weekend, I bet that far
more Israelis would take the opportunity to visit Jerusalem and celebrate its
beauty and history.
At least seven months of the Hebrew calendar –
Heshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shvat, Adar, Tamuz and Av – could use the addition of a
long civic weekend.
In fact, Thursday-through- Saturday weekends could be
timed to mark minor and mostly ignored Jewish holidays such as Hanukka, Tu
Bishvat and Purim.
(Tishrei already has Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and
Succot, Nissan has Passover, and Sivan has Shavuot – so no additional holidays
are necessary in these months).
We can make up new civic holidays, too,
like Balfour Declaration Day, David Ben- Gurion’s Birthday, Teddy Kollek
Memorial Day, Shimon Peres New Middle East Day, Reclaim the Galilee Day,
Eurovision Day and Maccabi Tel Aviv Euroleague Cup Day.
involves practically no cost to the economy.
The addition of one such
vacation day per month several times a year amounts to about 15 extra minutes of
work per day per employee.
We can work that additional quarter-hour
easily, and will be a happier people for it.
Israel needs more long
weekends, and I don’t want to wait until next Independence Day to get one. Will
one of our new lawmakers please take up the legislative challenge now?
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