Shabbat war: Haredim vs. gas station shops

Eda Haredit's Shabbat committee eyeing gas station convenience stores open on day of rest in Jerusalem. Committee hopes to solve crisis through negotiations, before having to launch demonstrations

Ynet, Israel/January 20, 2010

After protests against Intel and the Karta parking lot have died down, the Eda Haredit faction now has its sights on a new target - Gas station convenience stores that open on Shabbat.

Eda Haredit activists claim that 10 such stores desecrate Shabbat by opening every weekend - some in close proximity to areas with high ultra-Orthodox concentration.

"This is a new and severe loophole which is also against the law," sources from the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat said, "We are already working to have them shut down."

The activists discovered that seven Yellow convenience stores, two So Good stores, and one Menta store open on the day of rest, even though the chains in question also appeal to the haredi public.

"There is one at the Paz gas station which is a half-a-minute walk from the Toldot Aharon seminary," said Rabbi Yosef Rosenfeld of the Edah Haredit, "It's even more severe than Shefa Shuk which wasn't the one to desecrate Shabbat, but AM:PM which comes under the same ownership, and is why it was boycotted."

And what of the gas stations themselves? "They have been open for decades now, and unfortunately, there is nothing in the law that forbids this," Rosenfeld told Ynet.

"But a business that is just like a grocery store? This is forbidden. This is a crack in the wall of Shabbat and we view this with much severity," he added.

The rabbi said that in the first phase of their war against the Shabbat desecration, the group has decided to open talks with the chains' managers in hopes of solving the crisis, before launching demonstrations against the stores.

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