Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Ellul 5760 - September 27, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Police Department Refuses to Reinstate Shabbos Observant Officer
by B. Rabinowitz

In a letter to the Chief Commander of the Police, Attorney Menachem Chachmon accuses the Police Department of refusing to reinstate Officer Chezi Elmasi. Elmasi was fired from his job because of his unwillingness to desecrate Shabbos. The Police Department refused despite the fact that the High Court issued an order to reinstate Elmasi provisionally until the end of deliberations on his appeal filed by Chachmon in which the latter described the entire chain of events that led to the firing of the officer.

As a result of the High Court decision Elmasi was technically reinstated, but told to remain at home on paid vacation. He was not restored to his former position as officer in the patrol unit in Beersheba. Chachmon wrote to the Chief Commander of the Police about the issue.

Attorney Rona Kedmi replied for the police department that in the request for a court order, as drafted in the appeal, the issue of his return to work and his specific job posting were separated; therefore the implementation of the order is justified. Kedmi said that the order given by the High Court refers to his return to the police department, while his job- posting received no legal support. "Return to work can be done in various forms, including paid vacation, which is, indeed, the case with your client. The Police Department has thus fulfilled its obligation as stated in the court order."

Chachmon sent a very sharp letter in rebuttal, in which he said that he is upset over the manner in which the Police interpreted the High Court decision. He notes that such interpretation is unreasonable since the order instructed the Chief Commander and the Internal Affairs Minister to return the petitioner to his work, and that the meaning of the order is clear and simple. Chachmon adds that attempts by the Police and the Chief Commander to claim that these phrases do not mean actively returning Elmasi to work contradict the spirit and letter of the High Court decision. "In any event," he adds, "they certainly show a lack of integrity as well as unacceptable behavior."

Chachmon said that police officers deserve paid annual vacations but these are always coordinated with the policeman in question. In this case, Elmasi was not sent on his annual vacation but was told to remain at home without work and he will be paid as if he were actually working. "Paid vacation at the expense of the employer outside of the framework of annual vacation is not considered a `return to work.' It is, rather, an illegal layoff of a worker, especially in light of the fact that the Supreme Court ordered the Police Department to reinstate him."

Chachmon wrote a additional letter, in which he demanded to know who actually decided not to actively employ Elmasi, what were that person's considerations, and from where he derives the authority to keep a policeman in his home.


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