Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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5 Tishrei 5760 - September 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Bnei Torah Demand Shabbos Closure of Bank Hamizrachi ATMs

By Betzalel Kahn

A group of prominent activists have gathered the signatures of hundreds of bnei Torah on a petition calling upon Bank Hamizrachi to withdraw its intention to operate an ATM on Shabbos.

Bank Hamizrachi's plan to operate automatic banking services on Shabbos starting this month was reported a number of weeks ago in Yated Ne'eman. Bank Hamizrachi has always closed its money machines on Shabbos. Its first ATM to open on Shabbos is in the Savyonim mall. The new bank administration, headed by Victor Medina, is evidently trying to expand the bank's circle of secular clients.

The article also stated that the Tsomet Institute approved the operating of the ATMs on Shabbos. According to the bank's Deputy Marketing Director, Avi Nota, "Tsomet determined that is possible to operate an automatic teller machine on Shabbos because it does not involve the use of manpower."

The purpose of the petition is to effect a massive withdrawal of the banks' clients in the event that the bank does not respect the feelings of its Shabbos observers.

The appeal to the Shabbos observant clients of the bank notes, "We have recently learned that Bank Hamizrachi plans to breach the wall of Shabbos by operating ATMs on that sacred day while offending the sensitivities of its thousands of Torah-observant clients. Since we hope we are able to avert this in advance by sending a sharp letter of protest which will be transferred to all those involved in the affair, the bank's clients are asked to sign this statement for the sake of the honor of Shabbos kodsheinu."

This announcement was circulated in chareidi centers. Attached to it was the article which appeared in Yated Ne'eman as well as a copy of the statement which will be sent to the administration of Bank Hamizrachi. The statement reads: "We, the undersigned, clients of the bank, hereby protest the serious breach in the sanctity of Shabbos which you are about to effect at the bank's branch at the Savyonim mall by the operation of the ATM on Shabbosim. We, your loyal clients, joined the bank because it is administered in a religious spirit and respects the values of religion and Shabbos, and especially because none of its devices or banking services function on Shabbos. We therefore ask you to continue to preserve the bank's tradition and not to cause us to protest and to take measures (such as leaving it) which will incur losses to the bank."

Until now, hundreds of avreichim from the large chareidi centers in the country have signed the statement. Protest organizers note that the large response of bnei Torah to the effort delineates the fact that many of the bank's clients want the bank to consider their feelings and preserve the bank's status quo, which has been in effect for many years.

"Every client must make an effort, either by writing a personal letter or through a personal appeal to the administration in his particular branch or even to the clerks he encounters, to demand that they display minimal consideration to their many clients and immediately halt all efforts to breach the wall of Shabbos," say petition organizers.

The article which appeared in Yated Ne'eman a few weeks ago quoted the reaction of Reuven Alder, senior deputy director of Bank Hamizrachi. He said that the bank fully observes all of the values of religion and Shabbos. "No employee of the bank works on Shabbos or holidays. The bank continues to preserve its religious character. We have no intention of offending our religious and chareidi clients."

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