Tel Aviv to allow some stores to open on Shabbat

The Tel Aviv municipality passed a by-law that will allow some grocery stores to remain open on Shabbat.

Under the measure passed Aug. 10, about 15 percent of Tel Aviv’s grocery stores will receive permission to remain open on Saturdays. They will be spread throughout the city, with fewer open in religious areas and more in secular areas.

It is illegal in Israel to open retail businesses on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday and ends after sunset Saturday. Businesses that remain open are levied modest fines.

Israel’s interior minister, Gideon Saar, in June rejected an amendment to allow some stores to stay open on Shabbat and holidays. Saar said the measure, approved by the municipality’s city council in March, did not explain why it was essential for the stores to remain open on Shabbat rather than meet the public’s needs during the rest of the week.

The amendment, which dealt with grocery and convenience stores, needed the approval of the Interior Ministry to go into effect.

The owners of the small shops claimed they were losing customers to chains that could afford to remain open on Saturday and absorb the modest fines levied for their transgression. — jta