Poll: Public would give up Shabbat shopping for transport

Every other person in Israel would be prepared to trade off shopping on Shabbat for the benefit of having public transport services operating on that day and enjoying leisure activities, according to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute. The survey, which was carried out ahead of the 2007 Caesarea Forum this week, which will be discussing the "Economic Ramifications of a Second Day of Rest," found in addition that less than one third or 27 percent of the Jewish population in Israel was observing the Shabbat according to Halachic laws, while 20% were keeping the Shabbat to a certain degree and 53% were not Shabbat observers. Furthermore, two thirds of the Jewish population were traveling, shopping or taking part in leisure activities on Shabbat, despite the fact that the majority of businesses were closed and public transport services were not operating. About 43% of those questioned said that they took part in leisure activities, 17% went on large shopping sprees, 35% engaged in food shopping and 41% went on Shabbat day trips. The survey found that although turning Sunday into a holiday with active trade and commerce would significantly lower the percentage of Shabbat buyers, it would still not make the majority of secular Israeli Jews change their shopping habits. Asked if having Sunday as another day of rest would change their shopping habits, 40% answered that they would continue to shop on Shabbat even if they had the option of not having to work on Sunday, while 37% believed that they would not engage in any shopping on Shabbat. Shabbat buyers could be divided into two equal groups. The first, those buyers who had no choice as Shabbat turned out to be the only day they could free up time to go shopping and in the second group, were those who did not want to give up their right to shop on Shabbat even if they could shop on a different day. The survey was carried out among a representative sample of 502 adults at the age of 18 and above.