Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Seculars fight closure of J'lem cinema on Shabbat

'This is no way to keep secular youth in Jerusalem', city council member says of decision not to allow new Cinema City complex to operate on Shabbat. City claims decision came from gov't

Day after Ynet study shows rapidly increasing number of ultra-Orthodox students in capital's schools; Jerusalem secular youth are launching a struggle against the city, this time, on the big screen. Following the city council's decision to keep the Cinema City complex – to be constructed the coming year - closed on Shabbat, a group of secular youths is pushing forward with its initiative to offer private movie screenings on Fridays, and vows additional activity.


"The 'residents for residents in Kiryat Yovel' committee is organizing the screening of the film 'Black cat, white cat' this Friday, as part of its open cinema plan. We are screening the film to demonstrate that in Jerusalem, and in Kiryat Yovel, there is free and secular culture," one of the plan's initiators told Ynet.


The open screening in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood was launched last year as a social-secular activity, and the residents consider it part of their struggle's success. The activists said the enhanced protest will be creative and will include the screening of films on Friday nights in the city's neighborhoods and at well known locations.


"The city's decision is outrageous," a source from the committee said. "The municipality said it was the entrepreneur's decision not to open on Shabbat, so we plan to get thousands of people to sign a demand to open the Jerusalem cinemas on Friday nights. If this doesn't help, we will also consider boycotting the cinema."


Ofer Berkovich, a Jerusalem city council member of the Hitorerut (awakening) party, stressed that, "closing the cinema on Shabbat harms the secular population's ability to live in the city, and this is no way to keep secular youth in Jerusalem. This does not in any way affect nearby religious neighborhoods and does not harm the status-quo, and therefore, it should be allowed to open on Shabbat."


The Cinema City complex is slated to open near the Binyanei Ha'uma convention center. The Jerusalem Municipality said in response that closing the cinema on Shabbat "was not a municipality decision. The government's policy does not allow for its operating on Shabbat as it is on government property. If the entrepreneurs chose private property, there will be no such limitation."


Berkovich said that despite claims that the decision was made by the government, the city had a hand in it as well. "The Jerusalem Municipality certainly added to the approval of the Finance Committee agreement a clause that limits opening on Shabbat. The agreement that was brought before the Finance Committee and the council meeting did not include any condition by the Israeli government or the Finance Ministry not to open the site on Shabbat. If there had been such a request from anyone in the Finance Ministry, then it should have been revoked," the council member said.


פרסום ראשון: 05.03.10, 08:35
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