“There is not a shadow of doubt that we view [bike rentals] with the utmost seriousness. We will do everything we can to prevent [the bike rentals]. I know that there are similar initiatives in Tel Aviv and other places, but Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is a holy city. That’s how it needs to be run."
Haredim Threaten To Stop Jerusalem Public Bike Rentals Over Potential “Shabbat Desecration”
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Next spring, Jerusalem plans to open a city-sponsored bike rental program with 15 self-service rental stations located in the center city area, in surrounding neighborhoods, and near tourist sites renting a total of 500 bicycles. The rental stations will be solar powered and users will rent the bicycles using their smartphones.
But even though rental stations in haredi neighborhoods will be closed on Shabbat, an haredi politicians oppose the entire bike rental plan and are trying to stop it from coming to fruition because they believe the bike rentals will encourage Shabbat desecration.
According to a report in Ha’aretz, earlier today Army Radio reported that haredi factions on Jerusalem’s city council announced their opposition to bike rentals.
“There is not a shadow of doubt that we view this with the utmost seriousness. We will do everything we can to prevent this. I know that there are similar initiatives in Tel Aviv and other places, but Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is a holy city. That’s how it needs to be run,” the chairman of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism faction on the Jerusalem city council, Eliezer Rauchberger, reportedly said.
Deputy Mayor Tamir Nir, who is the primary backer of the bike rentals, wondered why haredim were really opposing the plan.
“It could be that they are just making noise to convey the story of the groceries,” Nir said, referring to the forced Shabbat closures of eight mini-markets located in or near the center city. The eight markets have stayed open on Shabbat for decades, but Jerusalem’s secular mayor, Nir Barkat, allegedly gave their forced closure to haredim in return for haredim not rioting over the opening of a new movie theater complex on Shabbat. That movie theater complex is located in a secular area of the city far from any haredi neighborhoods. Nonetheless, haredim staged a protest and then rioted the first Shabbat it was open. Barkat made the alleged deal with haredi leaders to close the mimi-markets immediately after that.
“But it also could be that [haredim] really will do everything to stall the program,” Nir continued. “What are we dealing with here? What desecration of the Sabbath? All told, it’s just a tap on an app.”