Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, the city’s neighborhood rabbis and religious city council members joined together in protest against the AM:PM affair in which two of the 24/7 chain stores employed Jewish workers during Yom Kippur.
“For thousands of years, the Jewish nation had great respect for the holy day, under all circumstances, everywhere and at all times.
“Desecration in a public domain by Jews is unbelievably hurtful and painful,” the rabbis wrote in an statement published on Monday in the ultra-Orthodox press.
As part of the protest, the rabbis demanded that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Tel Aviv Municipality, and the law enforcement authorities “examine the unprecedented issue and enforce the Hours of Work and Rest Law and the Municipal Law in the face of these law-breakers and violators.”
In addition, the rabbis turned to Tel Aviv business owners in the announcement, begging and pleading that they “please refrain from hurting our feelings and harshly trampling Shabbat and holidays.
“Shabbat and holidays are based on the highest of religious, national and social foundations and we cannot trample them for the sake of a deal,” they wrote.
The rabbis have also requested that the city’s residents do everything possible to prevent desecrating the Sabbath and holidays.
Army Radio was the first to report that two Tel Aviv AM:PM stores employed a number of Jewish workers who unloaded goods and cleaned shelves during Yom Kippur.
According to the same report, the workers were offered three times the salary for working on the highest of Jewish holidays. The two branches’ windowpanes were covered with newspapers in an attempt to hide the workers.
'This will never happen again'In light of the incident, the second of its kind involving the ultra-Orthodox public, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor began to investigate the franchise for allegedly violating the Hours of Work and Rest Law.
Simultaneously, Dudi Weissman, owner of the 24/7 stores, decided to fire chain CEO Oded Blum last Friday.
The franchise denied the Israel Radio report and told Ynet that they solely employed guards that day.
Weissman told Ynet in response to the incident that “employing Jewish guards on Yom Kippur contradicts my beliefs and conflicts with my world view and my family’s generations-long tradition.
“The explanations I received from the chain managers do not decrease the severity of the deed. I will make sure that this never happens again and unfortunately, I will see to the end of CEO Oded Blum’s position despite the outstanding managerial capabilities he demonstrated.
“In the name of the franchise, it is of my volition to apologize. From years of experience, the chain’s stores have suffered thefts on Yom Kippur and this year as well.
Thus, from an assessment we made, it turns out that the franchise reached an erroneous decision by employing guards on Yom Kippur. Even though the original decision was to employ non-Jewish employees, the severity of the decision should not be minimized,” said Weissman.