In the wake of the serious breach of Shabbos which has been
occurring at the Grand Kanyon Mall in Haifa, a Public Council
for Shabbos has been formed in Haifa. The Council is composed
of rabbonim, public figures and activists from all circles of
the city. It met last week to decide on steps to be taken in
order to prevent additional Shabbos desecration in the city.
Members of the Council include the city's two chief rabbis as
well as neighborhood rabbis, communal leaders, chairman of
the Haifa Religious Council and members of the City Council.
At the emergency meeting, the chief rabbis reviewed the
Shabbos desecration taking place in various places in the
city and discussed the opening of stores in the Grand Kanyon
Mall. The mall borders on the Neve Shaanan and Hadar
neighborhoods, which are populated by chareidi and religious
The participants praised the strong stance of Mayor Amram
Mitzna, who took legal steps to prevent the Shabbos
desecration and did not hesitate to contend with Meretz and
Shinui activists, who subsequently blamed him for yielding to
the religious sector. Mitzna noted, "I won't let Shinui
introduce a foul spirit into Haifa." These remarks drew
admiring reactions from many sectors of the community, even
In discussions with the rabbonim, the director of Grand
Kanyon maintained that this had been a one-time occurrence.
However from advertisements in the local newspapers, it seems
possible that the Shabbos breaches might recur. As a result,
the Shabbos Council decided to establish two committees. The
first will meet with Mitzna, while the second will meet with
the mall director. The goal is to remain on the alert and
prevent additional breaches in the walls of Shabbos as well
as to close existing ones.
The council has also decided to conduct a massive prayer and
protest rally to be attended by city rabbonim and its
residents, especially those living in Neve Shaanan, Hadar and
Achuza which are near the new mall. In addition, it was
decided to designate a "Shabbos for the Sake of Shabbos,"
during which all of neighborhood rabbonim would urge members
of their synagogues to join the struggle for the city's