Press Release

Dr. Shuki Friedman: Religious Status Quo is Dead

IDI scholar responds to High Court deliberations on changes to Shabbat ordinance in Tel Aviv

In light of Monday's High Court deliberations on the case of the city of Tel Aviv, which has requested that the Shabbat ordinance be modified for the city to allow 160 supermarkets to stay open on Shabbat – in limited number and in rotation – IDI scholar Dr. Shuki Friedman said, “We are talking about a subject that needs to be handled in an organized fashion and on a national level by Knesset lawmakers, and not something with which the High Court should intervene.”

Dr. Friedman, director of IDI’s Center for Nation, Religion and State, noted that the current petition by the city of Tel Aviv is just a symptom of the fact that the religious status quo in general and Shabbat ordinances specifically, failed miserably and became irrelevant long ago.

“The time has come to re-raise the issue of the status quo and write new legislation that will be accepted by the majority of Israelis,” said Friedman. “This legislation should include providing cultural and leisure activities, partial public transportation and limited commercial offerings in areas where local municipalities render it appropriate. Of course, not all businesses should be allowed to operate freely on the Sabbath and public transportation should not run in areas that are largely religious or traditional.

“This is the way to once again make Shabbat in Israel a collectively valuable and spiritual experience.”

See Dr. Friedman’s study of the status quo (Hebrew).