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MK Orlev
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Minister Yishai
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MK proposes day off on Sundays
Bill proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev calls for declaring Sunday an official day of rest and turning Friday into a regular workday, while completely banning all industry activities on Shabbat, but making allowances for recreation, public transportation

A bill proposing declaring Sunday an official day of rest will be put forward by National Union-NRP chairman MK Zevulun Orlev in the coming days.

 

According to the bill, Friday will be turned into a regular workday, until Shabbat begins, and the weekend will last until Monday morning.

 

At the same time, certain restrictions on Shabbat will be lightened by legally turning a blind eye on things such as public transportation, so that the secular public will be able to travel.

 

"The idea's main purpose is to allow the religious and traditional public to use the day of rest to spend time with the family, something which is not possible for Shabbat observers," Orlev explained.

 

According to Orlev, his plan has already won the support of senior religious Zionist rabbis and senior bodies in the Knesset.

 

In addition, the bill proposes that on Shabbat, all activity in industry, trade and state institutions be completely banned.

 

Nonetheless, the bill leaves room for culture and recreational activities on Shabbat "while monitoring their location and limiting noise".

 

Orlev went one step further toward the secular public and said that the law would not ban public transportation on Shabbat, as long as it was in small vehicles and did not cause disturbance in neighborhoods with a high concentration of religious residents.

 

A committee for Shabbat matters will also be set up according to the bill, and will determine details of the arrangements proposed, and settle any disputes arising from them.

 

The National Union-NRP chairman also suggested that the prime minister appoint a body responsible for enforcing the Shabbat law, and present an annual report on its activity, which would be available for public viewing.

 

"The annual report will include the identities of the (law's) violators, the scope of violations and the penalties given," Orlev explained.

 

According to the bill, work will be allowed on Sundays, but employees working Sunday will be eligible to receive a day off during the week, in addition to Shabbat.

 

'Change will contribute to family unit' 

"From Monday to Thursday the work day will be nine hours instead of eight as is currently set by law, in order to make up for Sunday's work hours which will be cancelled," Orlev said, "the rest of the hours will be made up for in a half-work day on Friday. This way, no economic damage will be caused."

 

"In most western countries, two full days off are customary. This contributes to the family unit and allows family members to spend much more time together…This change could reduce controversy between the religious and seculars, and lead to reduction in unemployment and bridge social gaps. It will have a positive effect on the Israeli economy and its merging into international trade."

 

Regarding allowances made in the Shabbat law, the National Union-NRP head said, "This is not a compromise that is against Halacha, but an acceptance of the current reality of which there is no political power to change."

 

"The 'all or nothing' system has been met with complete defeat, and the amount of Shabbat desecrations in the country proves that we have been left with 'nothing'. The law will try to salvage what is left – a complete ban of trade, industry and services on Shabbat."

 

Orlev added that "by moving the day off from Friday to Sunday, there is also a chance of reducing Shabbat desecrations in the field of culture and entertainment.

 

"Unlike other laws that have been proposed to Knesset in the past, this bill does not create a precedent situation in which the Knesset allows what is explicitly forbidden by the Torah on Shabbat. It just doesn't refer to certain activities. Therefore, I believe it appeals to all parties, such that the religious faction and Meretz can all support it."

 

'NRP has lost its political way'

Shas chairman, Minister Eli Yishai, criticized MK Zevulun Orlev's bill proposing changes to the Shabbat law, saying that this would enable mass desecration of Shabbat.

 

"Any initiative by parties calling themselves religious and turning reform on Shabbat matters should be foiled. It's a pity that a party that has lost its political way is trying to turn Shabbat, which has preserved the Jews in the Diaspora, into a political agenda," Yishai said.

 

Meretz faction chairwoman, MK Zahava Gal-On, said that the "Shabbat revolution" proposed by Orlev was a deception.  

 

"As long as the religious-rabbinical establishment dictates how we should marry, divorce and eat, and what we should eat, all these proposals are insignificant," she added.

 

MK Danny Yatom (Labor) said, "I praise the partial openness in the proposal, but I oppose the restrictions on the secular public, that wishes to continue shopping on Shabbat. The religious public should honor the seculars' freedom of employment and freedom of choice on Shabbat as well."

 


First published: 14.05.07, 09:05
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