A Supreme Court ruling dictates that Tel Aviv must shut down its chain stores on the Sabbath. But it is in this city that freedom of religion means living one’s religious feeling as they choose and experiencing the diversity of how others interpret their spiritual lives.
I have a love-hate relationship with the 24-hour convenience store AM/PM on the corner. It is full of overpriced, processed junk food and decorated with soulless, florescent sterility. For some reason the management regularly shifts around the merchandise such that no one item can be found in the aisle where it resided the previous week. I assume this is some sort of insult-my-intelligence marketing technique but the main effect is to waste my time and try my nerves. Not to mention the strange characters who trudge around there at night, gazing at the alcohol section.
On the other hand, it does have a decent fresh fruit and vegetable section that tends to beat the wilted greengrocer across the street. The AM/PM has bailed me out of more than one dinner party on a Friday night when the wine ran out or provided supplies for spontaneous Saturday brunch. I make regular bleary-eyed pilgrimages there at 7am when the milk for morning coffee has run out without warning. Including on Saturdays.
On Tuesday, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the municipal bylaws prohibiting certain businesses from opening on Sabbath have not been properly enforced and that the city must either shut down such chain stores on Sabbath, or change the bylaws. On Wednesday, Israeli television reported that the Court’s decision might eventually mean closing all businesses in the city on Saturdays, not just large food chains, but cafes and restaurants that are major attractions for recreation centers such as the Tel Aviv Port. The Court accepted the appeal by small business owners, who claimed their profits were being undercut because they do close on Sabbath. Up to now, the city has just slapped a ritual fine of NIS 660 (about $180) on the large shops, who easily absorb the fee.
Small shop owners explained to television news reporters that Tel Avivians, who are largely secular, hardly bother to shop on Friday before the Sabbath anymore. Profits are draining away as the flood of...Read More