Israel: Religion and the Secular State
January 27, 1999

The Conversion Issue
Reform & Conservative Jews on Religious Councils
Opening Kibbutz Stores on the Sabbath
Drafting Yeshiva Students
Political Implications


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Opening Kibbutz Stores on Shabbat

In recent years, kibbutzim have opened stores and even shopping centers that operate on Saturday, drawing large numbers of shoppers from across the country. For many secularists, shopping at kibbutz-operated stores is the way to get around the closure of stores closer to home on the Sabbath. That, in turn, has spurred Orthodox efforts to have the stores found in violation of labor laws requiring businesses to close for a day of rest, with the day set in accordance with religious identity (thus Jewish-owned stores close on Saturday, Muslim stores on Friday, etc.).

But at the beginning of December, a Labor court judge ruled that kibbutz stores are not obligated by the laws that prohibit most businesses from opening on Saturday, since they are cooperatives rather than individuals, and so do not have a religious identity. Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein announced that he will appeal the decision, while Labor and Social Affairs Minister Eli Yishai (like Suissa, from the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party) said he would introduce legislation that would prevent kibbutz enterprises from opening on the Sabbath.



Next: Drafting Yeshiva Students


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