Secular revelers to protest Shabbat closures with street party in Bnei Brak

Tensions run high as organizers plan event in protest of ultra-Orthodox policies.

A street party in January at the Simta Pub, on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street (photo credit: REUTERS)
A street party in January at the Simta Pub, on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A group of secular revelers have organized a street party for next Saturday (September 17) in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Bnei Brak in response to calls for store closures in Tel Aviv on Shabbat, according to the event coordinators' Facebook page.
According to the event's organizer, "'it is impossible to keep quiet any more to the status quo interruptions. It is impossible to reduce the movement of people on Shabbat and on weekdays due to Haredi political whims."
The coordinator further wrote "I call to you to come to Bnei Barak (Accurate address soon) next Shabbat, with music, megaphones and lots of spirit to prove to everyone that the secular community are not suckers and quiet. You [ultra-religious sector] have crossed the line and now the border protection [secular sector] will come to you."
The issue surrounding Shabbat closures resurfaced last month when a branch of the 'Henri's' cafe franchise in Tel Aviv's Sarona Market Mall refused to open on Shabbat and was fined by the establishment.
A dispute over a Tel Aviv municipal bylaw, passed in 2014, permitting the opening of stores in the primarily secular city led to a Knesset committee to review of the matter.
The committee failed to reach a consensus and is apparently set to release "options" to settle the dispute regarding the bylaw.
Last Friday, Benjamin Netanyahu ordered railway construction to cease operations during Shabbat, the holy day of rest for Jews, which caused impediments for thousands of travelers on Saturday night and Sunday, including soldiers who were returning to base.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this article.