Amid a chorus of shouts of: “Wake up Lapid and Barkat! We want our capital to be open to everyone – and for everyone to live as they see fit,” dozens of young demonstrators gathered near the city’s newest movie complex to protest its government’s enforced Shabbat closing.
Cinema City, a 15-screen, NIS 125 million compound being constructed above the National Government Center parking lot, has become a lightening-rod for debate since its owners were given a building permit in 2010 with the precondition by the Finance Ministry and Jerusalem Municipality that it remain closed on Shabbat.Upon signing the permit for the 2,390 seat theater, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, “The municipality is investing enormous resources in transforming the city into a cultural and entertainment capital so that it will attract and draw young people, tourists, and businesses.”
However, according to members of Awakening in Jerusalem, a pluralistic, grassroots organization that organized the protest, by mandating that Cinema City be closed on Shabbat, it will drive young people and businesses away from Jerusalem.
“This is a very important issue for us to decide to stay in Jerusalem,” said Awakening in Jerusalem volunteer Inbal Hoffman. “The weekend is the only time we can spend our time as we want to – and for me and many others that means we need our cinema, theater, clubs and restaurants.”