Photo Credit: Zoltan Kluger (1896–1977) via Wikimedia
Shabbat at Dizengoff Circle, Tel Aviv, circa 1939

After years of fighting, this Shabbat, Cheshvan 25, 5780 – November 22-23, 2019, public buses will be available to transport the residents of Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Givatayim, and Kiryat Ono, as part of a project dubbed “Pleasant on the Weekend.”

The project will operate 6 lines with more than 500 stops across the Dan Region (Metropolitan Tel Aviv), using 19-seat minibuses. For the time being, the busses are free.

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The buses will operate on Friday from 6 PM to 2 AM, and on Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Most buses will leave every half hour, except for line 710 from Kiryat Ono, which will leave on the hour. Bus service for the handicapped will be available every 90 minutes, and reservations can be made 2 hours in advance.

Frankly, it feels a bit funny to include the details of a Shabbat-desecrating service, but we are a news outlet and you’re probably curious.

Last Monday, the Tel Aviv municipal council cast the decisive vote in favor of the fledgling service, approving the initiative by 19 to 6. Several dozen religious and masori protesters demonstrated in Rabin square against the decision, which will cost an estimated 12.5 million shekel, 9 million shekel of which is paid by Tel Aviv.

The protesters carried signs with quotes from Israel’s national poet and former city resident Haim Nahman Bialik, and Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, in favor of observing Shabbat in Israel’s largest metropolis.

One organizer told Maariv that “Shabbat is a cornerstone and has national value. The Jewish character of Israel must be preserved.”

He added that “privately, anyone can act according to their belief, but public transport must not be accepted.”

Meital Blades, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv who holds the city’s transport portfolio, told Calcalist that “it’s time for free public transport on Shabbat, and the fact that there’s a transitional government helps us.”

“We started working on this solution earlier this year,” she said, “and we thought the project would start after a government had been formed. But now the religious parties cannot stop us.”

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