Press Release

IDI Scholar on Supreme Court Decision to Allow Supermarkets and Entertainment Establishments to Operate on Shabbat in Tel Aviv

‘The Knesset is paralyzed, resulting in legal chaos’

The Israel Democracy Institute this morning responded to Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Court to approve Tel Aviv’s municipal by-law allowing around 160 supermarkets and three entertainment establishments to remain open and operate on Shabbat. Dr. Shuki Friedman, Director of IDI’s Center for Religion, Nation and State, called the court’s ruling is “dramatic.” He said it once again proves that if the Knesset remains paralyzed by threats from ultra-Orthodox and other religious Knesset members, and does not manage to repair legislation relating to issues of religion and state, the void will be filled by the court – and that is the reality that is emerging on the ground.

“Instead of devising agreements through consensus on the matter of ‘resting on Shabbat’ as we do on other topics, we have a state of legal and procedural chaos,” explained Friedman. “It’s a situation of each man for himself.”

Friedman said the situation likewise causes harm to the status of the Supreme Court, which is being forced to rule on controversial issues of religion and state. Ultimately this can lead to anger against the court by the Israeli public.

Further, he said the decision by the Supreme Court “should be a wake-up call to politicians to act now and reach an agreement on the subject of Shabbat, as well as all other issues surrounding religion and state in Israel.”

He continued, “We basically already known what the Israeli public wants and what can be agreed upon. These premises have been expressed, for example, in legislation proposed by the Israel Democracy Institute.”

Dr. Friedman is available to interview on this subject. Please contact Maayan Hoffman, Director of International Communications, at +972-50-718-9742 or

For details on the Shabbat status quo in Israel, click here.