Jerusalem store owners petition against forced Shabbat closures

"To close shops in secular neighborhoods is against the law and freedom of religion," says attorney.

February 23, 2016 19:13
2 minute read.
Jerusalem store

A convenience store in Jerusalem that is open on Shabbat. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Arguing that the forced Shabbat closures of eight convenience stores in downtown Jerusalem beginning in April is unconstitutional, an attorney representing four shop owners filed a petition to Jerusalem’s District Court against the municipality and mayor on Monday night.

In the petition, Yossi Havilio stated that the municipality’s mandate to enforce the selective closures in secular areas is not only unjust, but a violation of religious freedom that will alienate thousands of secular residents.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

“It’s an important [petition] for Jerusalem because it affects the future of many people in the city who want to stay here and purchase things on Shabbat in the center of the city,” said Havilio by phone on Tuesday. “To close shops is against the law and freedom of religion.”

Moreover, Havilio accused Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat of capitulating to ultra-Orthodox members of his coalition, resulting in certain economic ruin for the shop owners who already are in financial dire straits following the protracted wave of terrorism.

Additionally, all the shop owners have contended that roughly half of their income is derived during Shabbat.

Deeming the move politically motivated, Havilio claimed that Barkat is appeasing Jerusalem’s sizable haredi community, which violently protested the Shabbat operation of the capital’s Yes Planet multiplex last year.

Havilio said this week’s petition comes after the municipality rejected the store owners’ stance three weeks ago.


Citing selective enforcement, Havilio noted that the municipality’s legal adviser is allowing mini-markets in the Ein Kerem, Talpiot and Atarot neighborhoods and in the southwestern portions of the city to remain open, because the haredi populations in those areas are smaller.

Gabriel Ben-David, who owns Supermarket 24/7 off Jaffa Road, accused the mayor of corruption in an effort to appease ultra-Orthodox residents and city council members.

“This is a form of corruption between Barkat and the religious parties,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s a bribe to keep their mouths shut about Yes Planet.”

Ben-David added that the mayor is offering up relatively defenseless small business owners as sacrificial lambs.

“Of course it’s very easy to victimize the small stores in downtown Jerusalem,” he said. “Somebody has to pay the price, and it’s easy to sacrifice us instead of big corporations.”

Meanwhile, the municipality has contended that it is within its legal rights to order the closures.

It remains unclear when the court will rule on the petition.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

The car in which MK Moshe Gafni was injured, September 17, 2018
September 18, 2018
Haredi MK Gafni nearly lynched on Yom Kippur eve for support of draft bill