Jerusalem's Police Department officials sharply criticized
Meretz politicians and activists for causing excessive and
unnecessary provocation and contention in their fight against
the justified demands of chareidi residents to close traffic
routes in the hearts of their neighborhoods on Shabbos.
Every week recently, activists from Meretz and other Leftist
parties instigate provocation against the chareidi public
with their loud and militant anti-religious declarations,
which result in unnecessary tension among the various sectors
of the city. According to the police, Meretz is one of the
bigoted parties that are trying to fan the Shabbos wars in
Meretz's general secretary, Chanan Erez, sent a sharp letter
protesting the criticism. Erez claims that Meretz hasn't
demonstrated for a number of weeks, at the request of
President Weitzman and of Jerusalem Police Chief Yitzchaki
himself. "Now that we've returned to the area full force, no
one in the Police Department has the right to criticize us
the over the fact that we do not and never will make peace
with the religious coercion and blackmailing of the chareidim
in Jerusalem and elsewhere."
Chareidi public figures said that Erez's remarks are very
surprising, since the Leftist parties sent thugs to Bar Ilan
Road and Ethiopia Street to beat chareidi residents who seek
to close those routes on Shabbosim and prevent Shabbos
desecration. "Who is behaving violently, if not the Leftist
activists, who nonetheless dare to claim that the chareidim
are trying to `blackmail' the secular?" they asked.
The Rabbinical Committee for Shabbos Observance in Jerusalem
and throughout the country met last week about the breaches
of Shabbos throughout the country, and particularly those in
The committee discussed the fact that Shabbos desecration
rapidly becoming widespread, in the opening of stores and
supermarkets, malls and large shopping centers for the non-
observant community throughout the country.
A number of people who appeared before the committee pointed
out the serious breaches in Shabbos observance at many
vacation and tourist sites. They noted that the chareidi
community is unaware of the fact that these places desecrate
the Shabbos, and that when they patronize them, they are
indirectly abetting the Shabbos desecraters.
The rabbinical committee decided to inform the gedolei
Yisroel of these facts, and, after listening to the
representatives of the rabbinical committee, gedolei
Yisroel decided to reissue the letter they wrote last
year, in which they beseech all yirei Hashem and all
those to whom Shabbos is dear, not to patronize places or
stores which desecrate the Shabbos.
The letter reads:
"To our great sorrow, the breaches in the bris olom
are becoming widespread, and the sanctity of the Shabbos is
being increasingly violated at shopping malls, cooperative
stores, factories, companies and sites all over the country.
How grievous is the fact that there are Shabbos-observant
Jews who pay no heed to this breach and they patronize and
visit these stores, sites and malls which desecrate the
Shabbos. Therefore we once more call on all who fear Hashem's
word and who are concerned about the sanctity of Shabbos, and
beseech them not to patronize places which desecrate the
Shabbos, and to prefer places where Shabbos is observed. By
this, the honor of Shomayim and the honor of Shabbos
kodesh will be increased."
The letter was singed by Maran, HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv,
the Vishnitzer Rebbe, the Gerrer Rebbe and HaRav Aharon
Yehuda Leib Steinman.
Problems on Ethiopia Street
Ethiopia Street and Chazanovitch Street are two narrow
streets (almost alleyways) that lead off of Haneviim Street
in the direction of Strauss Street and Meah Shearim.
Normally, they are both one way in opposite directions. All
the residents of Chazanovitch Street are shomer
Shabbos, as are many of the residents of Ethiopia Street,
though the latter has some residents who are not shomer
Shabbos. Many of the homes are large and some have
beautiful yards, separated from the streets by high walls.
Since the residents of Chazanovitch Street are all shomer
Shabbos, the city decided to close it to traffic on
Shabbos. In order to do so, it was necessary to declare
Ethiopia Street open to traffic in both directions. Since
that street is so narrow, many of the non-religious residents
protested that it cannot handle two-way traffic.
The area has been the scene of strife and protests by both
religious and non-religious protesters for several weeks.
Last week, the police department beefed up patrols at
Ethiopia Street to prevent secular groups from harming
Orthodox demonstrators who were on hand to protest Shabbos
There was also an increased police presence at the Sanhedria
intersection of Bar-Ilan Street that has also been a scene of
provocative demonstrations by Shinui for several weeks, and
chareidi counter-demonstrations, mostly by children.
In response to a suit filed by Arnon Yekutieli, the chairman
of the Leftist faction Jerusalem Now, along with Ethiopia
Street's nonobservant residents, the High Court issued an
interim order cancelling the decision of the Jerusalem
municipality closing Chazanovitch Street and making Ethiopia
Street two way. In an upsetting display of chutzpah,
Yekutieli charged that the city's decision was in fearful
response to chareidi violence while in fact the instigators
of violence in that area have been the secular hooligans paid
and brought in as a provocative measure.
One of the chareidi residents, who was beaten with a club,
had to undergo an operation on his foot. It should be noted
that the violent assaults of the thugs were not mentioned by
the secular media at all, even though it did not take place
in secret and there were many reports. They drive wildly up
and down the narrow streets.
UTJ's chairman, Rabbi Meir Porush reacted to the High Court's
decision, saying: "The High Court repeated the mistake it
made two years ago regarding the Bar Ilan Road, when it once
more forbade closing streets in chareidi neighborhoods where
everyone observes Shabbos. The High Court, which in the end
accepted the decision of the public committee regarding Bar
Ilan Road, will be forced to do the same regarding these
streets. Shabbos isn't a legal matter, and final decisions
pertaining to its observance will not be made in the
Deputy mayor Rabbi Uri Maklev said in reaction: "The
continued rulings of the Supreme Court against religion have
resulted in a new phenomenon in which the non-religious file
petitions to a non-religious High Court, which then cancels
and scorns all laws pertaining to religion. It defends the
rights of the secular, but not those of the chareidim. A new
phenomenon called `secular coercion' has arisen. Our
community, boruch Hashem grows from year to year, from
election to election. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court pays
absolutely no attention to this fact, and the situation
continues to degenerate."
Turbine Transport Not on Shabbos
Chareidi activists, and especially MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, were
instrumental in postponing the transport of a 250 ton turbine
manufactured by Israel Army Industries in Ramat Hasharon to
its place of use in an electric generating plant in Ashkelon.
The huge turbine has to be moved at a maximum speed of five
kilometers per hour, and it blocks three lanes of traffic.
Planners expect the project to take nine hours. The move
involves considerable numbers of police for traffic
Rabbi Gafni asked Rabbi Suissa, who is Infrastructure
Minister, to postpone the well-publicized moved from Shabbos
to another day. Police originally recommended the time
because traffic is very sparse then. Rabbi Gafni asked the
police to reconsider, which they did.
Chareidi observers noted that it only requires a modest
amount of good will to plan the move for another time of
minimal traffic, such as the late night and early morning
hours. If necessary, they said, the move could be done in