Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

30 Nissan 5764 - April 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Campaign to Prevent Haifa's Grand Kanyon from Opening on Shabbos
By Y. Arielli

United Torah Jewry representatives, together with representatives from other religious parties, met for an emergency meeting with Mayor Yona Yahav after the Grand Kanyon shopping center announced it would open its doors on Shabbos. Yahav took a firm stance against the idea, noting the mall's proximity to the city's chareidi neighborhoods. The various representatives intend to meet with the mall's owners to inform them of the gravity of their intentions.

UTJ city council representative Rabbi Aryeh Blitentahl sent an alarmed letter to Grand Kanyon Managing Director Yisrael Sevion, calling on him to reverse his plans since the majority of business owners at the mall object to opening the stores on Shabbos but are compelled by increasing competition. He also noted the mall's proximity to chareidi neighborhoods, which represents a serious violation of the city's status quo and of the municipal ordinance forbidding commercial activity on Shabbos.

At the emergency meeting held early this week Mayor Yahav said the only measure he could take to prevent the stores from opening on Shabbos is to dispatch inspectors to issue fines and warned that some stores would not be dissuaded by the fines since their regular turnover is higher than the amount of the fines.

Therefore Yahav proposed sending a delegation of religious and chareidi figures from Haifa to speak with mall managers and state their objections saying he, too, would contact them personally to point out the mall's proximity to chareidi neighborhoods.

Situated between the chareidi neighborhoods of Hadar Hacarmel and Neve Shaanan, the Grand Kanyon draws many religious shoppers. Sevion, a prominent Labor Party figure in Haifa, often declared he would honor the status quo by refraining to open for business on Shabbos. But according to recent announcements this policy is liable to change in the near future. Opening stores on Shabbos could lead to a sweeping directive by Haifa rabbonim not to patronize the mall.

Since its inauguration five years ago the Grand Kanyon suffered heavy losses until posting overall positive earnings last year. Before opening for business religious city council members refused to support approving the mall until an explicit pledge was made not to operate on Shabbos. "We're hoping the mall managers will recognize their mistake and reverse their decision," said Rabbi Blitentahl.


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