“Many local residents came to us, asking why the branch was not open on Shabbat, and why they had to travel to competitive businesses. We have honored the request of our clients and at the same time respect those who don't want to shop on Shabbat. We will be happy to see them on other days of the week.”
Zionist Orthodox, Haredim, Seculars Protest Opening Of Store On Shabbat
Shmarya Rosenberg • Failedmessiah.com
350 residents of the coastal city of Acre reportedly protested outside a home store in the Azrieli shopping center Thursday. The residents were angered that the home center’s management had decided to open the home improvement store on Shabbat.
Students from Zionist Orthodox hesder yeshivas protested alongside haredim. Even many secular Jews reportedly joined the protest.
The store was open on Saturday, but there reportedly weren’t many customers.
For many years, Acre has observed the so called “status quo” on religious affairs. Even so, in the heavily Arab Old City, stores are open on Shabbat.
Over the past few years, the city has tried to close all shops in the city, but that effort failed in the face of protests by store owners and High Court appeals.
Acre has become more religious during the past ten years. Hundreds of Zionist Orthodox families moved into the city, a new Zionist Orthodox yeshiva opened, and a new exclusively Zionist Orthodox neighborhood was founded.
Aharon Meidan, who manages the home center, told Ha’aretz that opening his store fills a real local need.
“Many local residents came to us, asking why the branch was not open on Shabbat, and why they had to travel to competitive businesses. We have honored the request of our clients and at the same time respect those who don't want to shop on Shabbat. We will be happy to see them on other days of the week,” Meidan said.
Protesters fear the opening of the home center on Shabbat will have a cascading effect that will result in many businesses opening on Shabbat.
For its part, the city, while not yet enforcing the law that would allow it to close the home center on Shabbat, wants to placate its growing Zionist Orthodox and haredi communities and maintain the religious “status quo.”
Opening the home store on Shabbat “damages the sensitivities of the religious public. We want to maintain the status quo, under which institutional businesses in the city remain closed on Shabbat,” the city reportedly said in a statement.
[Hat Tip: HeathenHassid.]