The Committee for the Sake of Shabbos in Netanya warns that
Ikea, an international furniture company which is opening a
branch in Netanya, has violated a clear cut obligation
regarding Shabbos observance in its new store.
The members of the committee have a letter signed by the
heads of the company stating that they will not open the
store on Shabbos. Nonetheless, as a condition for acceptance
for work, candidates were asked to sign statements to the
effect that they agree to work on Shabbosim.
The members of the Committee for the Sake of Shabbos point
to the letter of the workers and claim that it constitutes
proof of the plans of the heads of the company. In addition
to this, last this past Shabbos, preparations for the
opening of the branch (located opposite the Abir factory in
Netanya), took place amidst massive chilul Shabbos
which aroused a sharp reaction in the city.
Tuesday, (10 Nisan) the Israeli branch of the company opened
in Netanya. It is a huge store, located in the city's
industrial section and can accommodate thousands of
customers at one time. The branches of the company are
located in 30 countries throughout the world with about 150
stores. The branch in Netanya takes up over 23 thousand
square meters (230,000 square feet). That is about the size
of around 250 apartments! The huge store will have 60
furnished showrooms, a restaurant, a coffee shop and four
model apartments with complete furnishings, making it the
largest store in the Middle East.
The Ikea company has invested much money in advertisements
which do not say that the branch will be open on Shabbosim.
However, the advertisements will be in effect for only a few
months (until September), and there is no guarantee that
afterward the company will not announce that it will be open
on Shabbos. The Committee for the Sake of Shabbos in Netanya
recently received a letter written by Doron Cohen the
general director of Blue Square, the owner of the franchise
in Israel. In this letter, which was addressed to the
Netanya municipality, Mr. Cohen says that "as of now" the
branch will be closed on Shabbosim.
A committee meeting, held last week, was attended by
representatives of all spectrums of the chareidi and
religious sectors of Netanya. At that meeting, the
participants noted that the "as of now" motif is also
expressed in the agreements it insisted on with employees
regarding future work on Shabbosim.
Last week, some of the members of the Committee for the Sake
of Shabbos visited the gedolei Yisroel in their
homes, and were instructed to employ every possible means in
order to prevent the opening of the branch on Shabbos. HaRav
Yehoshua Rosenberg, chairman of the Committee for the Sake
of Shabbos and the rav of the Kiryat Nordau neighborhood of
the city, said that before conducting a public campaign
against Blue Square, a large food company which owns Shefa
Mehadrin and has does considerable business with the
chareidi sector, all other measures should be exhausted.
"The purchasing power of the chareidi consumer is great, and
we will turn to all of the chareidim and alert them," says
HaRav Rosenberg. "The opening of Ikea on Shabbos would
constitute a serious breach in the status quo, and pave the
way for the opening of additional shopping malls on
Shabbosim. We must object to this before it takes place."