Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nisan 5766 - April 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Haifa Court Prevents Store from Selling Pork

By Y. Ariel

For the first time in Haifa's history, the municipality will stop the sale of pork within city limits after a court upheld a petition filed by legal rights organization, Betzedek.

One-and-a-half months ago Tiv Taam, which specializes in pork and non-kosher meat, opened an outlet store in Haifa's Ramat Alon neighborhood. When local UTJ activists asked Betzedek to intervene in the matter, Chairman Rabbi Atty. Mordechai Green sent an urgent letter to the Mayor of Haifa, demanding he keep the store from opening.

In reply, the Mayor's Bureau said after that the famous Solodkin case regarding the ban against pork sales, Tiv Taam opponents would have to assess the opinion of nearby residents by circulating a petition. Within a matter of days neighborhood residents gathered the signatures of two-thirds of all households in the neighborhood, but the municipality nonetheless failed to take action to prevent the store from opening.

Betzedek filed a petition against the municipality and Mayor Yonah Yahav at the Court for Administrative Matters in Haifa. In the first hearing it came to light that Tiv Taam's plans to open the store were known to local activists as early as 2003 and they asked municipality officials to put a stop to the decree.

On several occasions the Mayor promised that the store would not open in Ramat Alon, and certainly not near religious institutions and botei knesses. City councilmen claim that the Mayor did indeed try to keep his promise but no other business could be found to lease them a store. They agreed pork should not be sold in close proximity to religious educational institutions but said there are certain doubts regarding the legality of the ordinance. Although the Pork Ordinance was legislated 48 years ago the municipality has never enforced it and numerous stores of this type are scattered around the city.

Tiv Taam representatives argued that a negligible number of Ramat Alon residents are religious and the store would serve the neighborhood's secular majority. Anticipating these contentions Betzedek asked the court to hear the views of secular residents summoned to appear in court. One after the other they testified the secular residents also staunchly object to the sale of pork in the neighborhood, saying that Tiv Taam's presence harms the character of the neighborhood. They noted most of the signatures on the petition submitted to the municipality belonged to non-religious residents.

Trying to make a good impression on the presiding judge, Tiv Taam's attorneys pointed out that the store in Ramat Alon is closed on Shabbos and holidays, unlike the majority of the chain's stores.

The rov of the neighborhood, HaRav Chaim Katz, described the tremendous harm the store causes all of the residents by selling pork and non-kosher meat and by drawing customers from other neighborhoods. He also related the harm done to students and congregants at the local botei knesses. HaRav Katz added that the law obligates businesses to close on Shabbos yet at Tiv Taam the Shabbos "starts" well into the night, which further aggravates residents who attend the nearby botei knesses.

The court accepted the petitioners' arguments in principle and scheduled another hearing for the following day. The hearing opened with a further request by Betzedek to prevent the Mayor, who was listed among the defendants in the case, from issuing Tiv Taam a business license since the store openly declared its intentions to transgress the city ordinance, which Atty. Green said not only forbids the sale of pork but also forbids authorizing or abetting the sale of pork. The court decided to let the Mayor weigh the matter but stated if he does not sign the license within two weeks the court would issue an order to close the store.

Due to the urgency of the case the judge wrote a ruling on the spot. The ruling requires the municipality to use its vested authority to enforce the ordinance, making concerted efforts as demanded by the situation, such as dispatching inspectors, issuing reports and even filing indictments for selling pork. Although the court's role in the case ended with the ruling the judge took the unusual measure of setting a follow-up hearing date in the event the municipality is unsuccessful.

The case is expected to serve as a landmark for other local authorities that refrain from enforcing the Pork Law in their respective jurisdictions due to revenue or any other considerations.


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