Last March, the ultra-Orthodox community launched a campaign against Weissman's AM:PM chain of 24/7 convenient stores which are open on Shabbat.
In response, the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat, which unifies the great rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox sector, called for a boycott all of Weissman’s businesses including the Shefa Shuk supermarket chain which specifically targets the ultra-Orthodox community.
However discordantly, negotiations did initially exist. Today, the sides have severed all ties and the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat has enlisted local rabbis in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods to begin acting.
This past weekend, haredi newspaper Hamodia published an ad on this issue in its Agudath Israel journal.
All of Ashdod’s ultra-Orthodox rabbis signed the notice which stated that the entire population should avoid buying products from this business group and especially from the Alon company which runs AM:PM, the Dor Alon petrol company, and the Blue Square, Shefa Shuk and Mega supermarkets.
As mentioned, the announcement is signed by all rabbis from Ashdod’s haredi community including, Rabbi Rafael Abuhatzeira from the famous family of rabbis, alongside the main Gur, Belz, Vizhnitz and Lithuanian rabbis.
In their announcement, the rabbis stated that as a result of the business group’s activity on Shabbat, other stores are forced to open as well due to economic competition.
'Don't support Shabbat destroyers'
The rabbis view this trend as a threat to the abidance of Shabbat throughout Israel.
“For this reason, we must act and do everything we can so that observance of Shabbat will be seen in all Israeli cities and we won’t, Heaven forbid, assist those breaking the rules and causing the masses to sin, and we will avoid them and won’t enter their stores and gas stations and petrol companies to buy anything and support the Shabbat destroyers.”
The rabbis demand the community to abide by the abovementioned and promise that “those showing strength will give birth to sons who are the greatest sages of Israel.”
The rabbis also gave a clear message to those who may acquire the Shefa Shuk chain in the future from the Blue Square chain and said that whoever does so is likely to lose all their money.
This step taken by Ashdod’s rabbis will not remain solely local and is expected to spread to other cities. “Other cities and districts like Ashdod are in preparation as well,” said the secretary of the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat.
According to him, while the great haredi rabbis declared that all ties be severed from Weissman’s business, “there has been enfeeblement in the community regarding this issue, there was a lot of confusion and many people wanted to know how to act.”
He also said that for this reason, “it was decided that local rabbis in all cities would open sites where explanations will be provided for the public on how to act towards a person who decided to trample the Shabbat and taint it.”