Nearly 500 demonstrators gathered in Safra Square in Jerusalem Saturday night, just outside the city’s Municipality offices, to once again protest the government’s decision to force the capital’s newest and largest movie complex to remain closed on Shabbat.
Cinema City – a 15-screen, NIS 125 million compound being constructed above the National Government Center parking lot – has become a lightning rod for debate since its owners were given a building permit in 2010 with the precondition by the Finance Ministry and Municipality that it remain closed on Shabbat. It is scheduled to open this summer.
Ofer Berkovitch, chairman of Awakening in Jerusalem, who led Saturday’s protest, and a similar one in April, said he was pleased by the strong turnout – and particularly heartened by the support of a handful of haredi protesters, whom he claimed supported religious freedom in the capital.
“This demonstration tonight showed that it was very important to the people of Jerusalem that Cinema City should be open on Shabbat,” said Berkovitch. “It was especially significant that a few members of the haredi community joined us as well, and said 30 percent [of them] wouldn’t object to Cinema City being open [on the weekend].”