Wrestling with the day of rest

A religious issue is fast becoming a political one with the return of the ‘Shabbat Wars.’

By
February 28, 2013 13:35
4 minute read.
Ice City Shabbat

Ice City. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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There are many ways to observe Shabbat – it could be haredi style or modern Orthodox, Reform, Conservative or secular. But now it seems that Jerusalem has given rise to a new way of celebrating the holy seventh day of the week. It is neither observant nor New Age but political. In other words, Shabbat, the day of rest and sanctity, has become a hostage in the hands of opposing parties fighting over its character.

The public aspect of Shabbat in this country is regulated through the secular-religious status quo agreement, which was signed in the first years of the establishment of the State of Israel. It is aimed at combining the limits of the religious side with the needs of the secular citizens and the economy. One of its primary regulations states that within public venues and organizations in the country, the religious laws should be respected – thus, for example, the food in the IDF is kosher; while in the private sphere, things can be more lax.

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