Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5761 - April 4, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Huge Furniture Store in Netanya Might Open on Shabbosim
by Yehuda Ariel

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."


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