New law allows secular to refuse to work on Shabbat

“The Sabbath belongs to everyone,” Zohar said following the vote. “There is no law that is more democratic and Jewish than this.”

June 19, 2018 22:14
1 minute read.
Jaffa Street in Jerusalem

People walk down Jaffa Street in Jerusalem on a Shabbat afternoon.. (photo credit: ONDREJ ŽVÁCEK/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)


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The Knesset passed a law Monday night that prevents employers from forcing their employees who are not religious to work on their day of rest.

Until the law passed, only those carrying out the directives of their faith were permitted to refuse to work. But thanks to the bill, which was sponsored by MKs Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and Miki Zohar (Likud), workers who are secular will also be able to turn down work on Shabbat.

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The law, which passed by a unanimous 57-0 vote, allows workplaces to request an exemption due to special circumstances.

“The Sabbath belongs to everyone,” Zohar said following the vote. “There is no law that is more democratic and Jewish than this.”

Lavie said the law is balanced, does not force anything on employers and enables people to stop lying about whether they keep commandments in order to be able to rest.

“The law expresses the essence of a Jewish-democratic state that does not discriminate on the basis of religious observance,” she said.

But Ido Rotbaum of Tel Aviv criticized the new law on Twitter.

“This is just a bad law that gets in the way of personal freedom,” he tweeted.

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