By MATTHEW WAGNERPublished: NOVEMBER 20, 2009 00:20Advertisement
Kosher supervision via video camera, automation of the production line and the use of non-Jewish workers are some of the creative solutions being weighed that would allow Intel Corp. computer chip plant in Jerusalem to remain open 24/7 without desecrating the Shabbat.
"We are discussing a number of options," Rabbi Amir Krispel, a representative of Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said on Thursday.
"The Institute for Halacha and Science has suggested working together with Intel's haredi employees in developing methods for automating some of the production processes. Students at Machon Lev [the Jerusalem College of Technology] have also offered halachic solutions.
"We have discussed ways of supervising the plant to make sure that no one does anything that is prohibited on Shabbat. Obviously, it is problematic to have a kosher supervisor on Intel's premises during Shabbat. But we are considering the use of cameras," said Krispel, who is one of three members of a special council that represents the three major haredi political parties - Shas, Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah (the latter two make up United Torah Judaism).
"There is a lot of goodwill on both sides and I am confident that a compromise will be reached that is acceptable to everyone. But there are a lot of sensitive issues, including Intel's need to keep its technological information confidential," said Krispel, who added that no final agreement had been reached between the sides.
The Intel plant in the capital's Har Hotzvim technology park, which is surrounded by haredi neighborhoods, has been a flash point since several of Intel's workers complained to MK Uri Maklev, from UTJ's Degel Hatorah faction, that the plant was operating on Shabbat.
Although there are other businesses in Jerusalem that stay open on Shabbat, such as hotels, Intel's Shabbat operations have attracted attention due in part to its vicinity to haredi neighborhoods.
The haredi community was split Thursday on how best to prevent the desecration of the Shabbat there.
The hardline Edah Haredit, an amalgamate of hassidic courts such as Satmar, Toldot Aharon, Dushinsky and Breslav, that are ardently anti-Zionist and zealously traditional, are planning to stage a demonstration this Shabbat in the Har Hotzvim technology park as they did last Shabbat.
The protest is slated to begin at noon, to give men time to finish morning prayers and consecrate the Shabbat over a glass of wine first.
The demonstration procession will begin at the home of Rabbi Tuvia Weiss, the senior rabbinic leader of the Edah Haredit, to emphasize his support.
In Ha'edah, the Edah Haredit's weekly mouthpiece, sharp criticism was leveled at "supposedly 'haredi' representatives" who agreed to negotiate with Intel and did not support the demonstration.
Meanwhile, representatives from Shas, Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael were holding negotiations with high-ranking Intel officials to find creative solutions that would allow the plant to remain open on Shabbat while at the same time adhering to the strictures of Halacha.
Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Council for the Sanctity of the Shabbat, which represents mainstream haredi interests, said that he personally attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince the Edah Haredit's Weiss to agree to a compromise in which non-Jews would operate the plant, while "Rabbi Weiss told me that he was opposed to compromise because it was a breach in the status quo and would set a dangerous precedent in which additional businesses in Jerusalem would remain open on Shabbat by employing non-Jews."
Intel Israel spokesman Koby Behar confirmed that the company and haredi representatives were holding negotiations. But he declined to disclose their content. He also refused to confirm whether Intel had agreed to employ non-Jews to operate the plant on Shabbat.
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