Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv F.C., State Cup final, May 25, 2017 (Maccabi, in yellow, lost 3-4).

The Ministerial Committee for Granting Work Permits on Shabbat, which includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Haim Katz (Likud) is expected to approve a permit for professional soccer games on the Jewish day of rest. The two Haredi coalition members, Shas and United Torah Judaism, will not object, as part of their deal with the PM, in return for his passing of the “supermarkets law,” giving the (often Haredi) Interior Minister the power to close down businesses on Shabbat.

Last September, Netanyahu asked Deputy Attorney General Raz Nazri to provide recommendations to issue a sweeping permit to professional soccer on Shabbat, in response to a High Court of Justice petition from a group of soccer player claiming their Jewish observance was being jeopardize by their obligation to play on Shabbat or end their careers.


The Haredi parties in government were enraged by the notion that they would be asked to support a legally sanctioned desecration of Shabbat, and were the subject of attacks from Haredi rabbis and politicians, including the Sephardi chief rabbi – but having been able to turn into law the bill against operating a long list of businesses on Shabbat, they consented, albeit tacitly, to an arrangement whereby the most popular sport in Israel would continue to be played on the day of rest.

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