(JNi.media) Israeli Facebook user Maayan Cohen Adiv on Tuesday posted that a food shop in Tel Aviv is being fined for keeping closed on Shabbat. “Yesterday I took my family for the first time to the Sarona Complex. Since we’d been there before, we first ate dinner in a different place, because finding something kosher in Sarona is like finding a needle in a haystack,” she wrote.
“During our tour through Sarona Market,” Maayan continued, “we suddenly ran into Henri’s store, one of the few in the entire complex that’s adorned by a kosher certificate. I was very surprised, and raised my voice while passing by the store owner who was serving customers, telling him he is ‘a righteous man in Sodom.’
“The owner smiled, said thank you, but then he mumbled something about a fine which I didn’t really comprehend… I came closer, and a conversation started whereby I was led to understand that since he is kosher, and isn’t open on Friday nights and Shabbat, he is fined close to $900 a month (!!!) because he refuses to stay open on ‘Shishi-Shabbat.’ I waited for him to start laughing, but it didn’t happen… Instead, he said, with a choked throat, that he’s considering closing down next month.
“I was left with my mouth hanging open.
“Should a man be punished for choosing to rest on his nation’s and his religion’s day of rest? Should they hurt his income and wage a real war of attrition against him? Only because he chose to honor the Shabbat? Seriously?” she asked.
The Sarona Market complex, at 3 Kalman Magen St., not far from the Azrieli Towers in downtown Tel Aviv, was established as the “heartbeat of Israeli culinary art.” The complex has 91 shops, stalls and restaurants of every genre, and it claims to be Israel’s largest indoor culinary market, and is very proud to be operating seven days a week. Constructed by Gindi Holdings on the grounds of a former German Templer colony, Sarona Market boasts being “an innovative, contemporary urban market that combines the old world with the new.”
Without the old world’s part concerning keeping Shabbat, apparently. Unfortunately, there is no way for a business to both receive an Orthodox kosher certificate and also operate on Shabbat. And so it appears that by not permitting a food shop to close on Shabbat, the Sarona Market is, in effect, prohibiting kosher certification to its businesses.
TV reporter Sivan Rahav-Meir, who was forwarded the above post, contacted Rami Bar Lev, CEO and owner of Henry’s, who told her: “When we came to sign a contract we were told we would work on Shabbat. I signed, but I expressed my verbal reservations. I believed we would get by down the road. I later found out that my concessionaire, like me, is traditional, and does not want to open on Shabbat. Now the management is angry with us, saying ‘this is not our vision, our vision is a place that’s open seven days a week.’ There are only a few, isolated, pre-approved businesses that close on Shabbat.”
“They started to charge us a fine of $890, which they take out of our bank account, every month we’re closed on Shabbat. I beg them to give us, too, an exception, but they refuse, saying again and again: it is not the vision of the place,” Bar Lev said.
He stressed that “I don’t want to be a hero, not for the religious nor the secular, that’s not my purpose, but this situation seems crazy. What was I asking for?”
A Sharona complex spokesperson said in response: “The place works seven days a week and the tenant has committed to that and did not receive approval for an exception. He is in breach of contract.”