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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem

News Digest: City Council Votes to Close the First Station on Shabbat


"Despite the lack of support from Moshe Leon [1]: The First Station complex [2] will be closed on Shabbat [3].

Another Haredi victory in the capital: The well-known First Station complex, which has become a symbol of Sabbath desecration in the city, will be closed on Sabbath. Although Moshe Leon abstained in the vote, the Haredim still managed to win the majority. In an unusual speech, Mayor Nir Barkat addressed Haredi members in anger: 'We have to know how to live together in this city. We are all committed to the status quo [4] […] I spoke to Rabbi Soloveitchik and the Rabbinical Committee. The status quo and the law say that entertainment venues can remain open on the Sabbath but no commercial action is permitted on Shabbat. […] The station complex and the city center are the same. I want to remind you that just 300 meters from the station complex, the Yes Planet complex [5] was approved [to be open on the Sabbath] during Lupolianski's [6] term. […] As someone who respects the Sabbath, I am the only mayor in Israel who enforces [the status-quo]. This is a city that respects the Sabbath and respects the status quo.'

Chairman of the United Torah Judaism party Eliezer Rauchberger said, after the vote: 'For almost two years, we have waited for this moment in which the majority of the Jerusalem municipality will finally make its voice heard.'"

– Kikar Hashabat


"**The First Station is still in danger**
After a long discussion at the District Committee, no decision was reached regarding the opening of the First Station on the Sabbath, and the hearing has been postponed to a later date.
We continue to struggle to preserve the nature of the public spaces in Jerusalem, and we won’t allow the First Station to be closed. In the Yerushalmim party, there are religious, Haredi, secular and traditional representatives. Despite our differences, we believe in moderation and coexistence; we should all live here, in peace.
We need you with us – makes yourselves heard. […] Write to city council members, come protest with us. Demand that members of the district committee come to the First Station on Saturday to see how the religious and secular publics enjoy the complex together."

– Yerushalmim [Jerusalemites] Party FB page

[Selected comments:]
– "He who turns the other cheek to the Haredi communities will end up getting slapped… The sane secular public is tired of protests, committees and talk whose sole goal is accepting the other, while that same other – the Haredis – treat the seculars in Jerusalem with disregard and contempt… The day that you stop talking about pluralism and accepting the Haredi extremists publicly is the day that you stand a chance recruiting many more people. Personally, I’m not even planning to vote in the coming elections because it is clear to me that Haredi politicians in the city council have made sure to secure positions of power from all parties in the city."

[A selection of comments on the issue from the Jerusalemites FB group:]
– "As a person who has lived in Jerusalem most of his life, it’s disappointing that another complex will be closed on the Sabbath. It’s disappointing to hear that there are candidates currently on the city council who abstained, and in so doing, contributed to its closing.
Jerusalem belongs to everyone. It has become the capital of religion and international culture, and makes life difficult for its residents. The thing that is most beautiful about Jerusalem is that it is everyone’s city: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Religious, Secular, Atheists, LGBT and all different kinds of communities. It’s a pity that that is being destroyed. The city should continue to be accepting of all its residents and guests […] The religious people have their locations, and so does the rest of the population. And those who aren’t religious should also be accepted and allowed to enjoy their leisure time and have access to culture."
– "[…] All sides here – for and against – made sure to be seen fighting over the Sabbath issue before the elections. It would have been better if they had waited until after the elections and then decided properly."
– "The Haredis who don’t pay property tax enjoy it all."
– "Just like Iran…"
– "Shameful! If this happens, I’m getting the hell out of this city."
– "Excellent. When will you understand that you must respect the Sabbath. Jerusalem was holy and always will be holy. There is a creator to this world, a king of the world, and you have to obey his rules […]"
– "They want to have the Eurovision here LOL, and on the Sabbath no less. What will fifty thousand tourists and delegations do in this city if everything’s closed; they would be better off hosting it in Tel Aviv. What is happening in this city is absurd. If this isn’t religious coercion, then what is?"

0202 Editor's Notes:
[1] Moshe Leon is a candidate for Mayor in the upcoming elections. In 2013, Moshe Leon ran for mayor of Jerusalem but lost to incumbent Mayor Nir Barkat. In August 2015, Leon joined the municipal coalition and the faction of Mayor Nir Barkat. As part of the coalition agreement signed between the two, he began to serve as a member of the city administration and as the holder of the community management portfolio.
[2] First Station is a historic train station near the Germany Colony neighborhood that was restored and transformed into a culture and entertainment center. Many of the restaurants and shops are open on the Sabbath, angering Haredi politicians and residents. This past Wednesday evening, Jerusalem's municipal council voted to close the First Station on the Sabbath.
[3] Shabbat, or Sabbath, (Saturday) is the Jewish holy day of the week. It’s practice in the public sphere in Israel is continuously debated within Israeli Jewish society.
[4] The ‘status quo’ referred to in this context is an agreement reached upon the establishment of the state of Israel between Haredi representatives and the founders of the State. Its goal was to set some ground rules regarding the relationship between the state and some religious aspects and communities, such as public areas during the Sabbath. This agreement has been contested ever since and has evolved and changed in accordance with political and social changes in Israel.
[5] A movie theatre complex not far from the First station which operates on the Sabbath.
[6] Uri Loplianski was the current Mayor Barkat's Haredi predecessor.

#Elections #Shabbat #Sabbath #Observance #Desecration #Religion #Status_quo #Moshe_Leon #Nir_Barkat