(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The adulation, the pride and the patriotism that has been aroused by Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision song contest victory on Saturday night has apparently left United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman unimpressed regardless of the clamor her success has generated.
Unmoved by the prestige of the Eurovision and its grand traditions, Litzman has insisted that Jewish traditions, specifically that of Shabbat observance, are not shunted aside.
Barzilai’s victory means the competition will be held in Israel next year, likely in Jerusalem, and since it is held every year on a Saturday night, preparations and even the contest itself, might have to start before Shabbat ends.
So in an effort to head off such a problem, Deputy Health Minister Litzman sent a letter sent to Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev insisting that the Shabbat not be violated by the contest or the preparations for it.
“In the name of hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens from all the populations and communities for whom Shabbat observance is close to their hearts, I appeal to you, already at this early stage, before production and all the other details of the event has begun, to be strict [in ensuring] that this matter does not harm the holiness of Shabbat and to work in every way to prevent the desecration of Shabbat, God forbid, as the law and the status quo requires,” Litzman wrote in his letter to Regev.
The status quo on religion and state matters requires government bodies not to engage in activities which violate the Shabbat, although exceptions for various reasons are granted.
The Eurovision is typically produced and staged by a country’s public broadcaster, in Israel’s case Kan, which would likely receive financing from the government from the Culture and Communications ministries.
In a brief response from Regev’s office, a spokesman said that the minister had vowed that “there will be no Sabbath desecration.”