Tel Aviv Municipality drafts legislation to allow groceries open on Shabbat


City Municipality proposes handing out 2-year permits to businesses that ask to be open on Shabbat. Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Assaf Zamir says, “We will not stop until we know we exhausted all possible avenues to preserve the city’s character as an open, liberal city.”

By Yehuda Shlezinger and Yori Yalon


The Tel Aviv Municipality has introduced a new proposal to allow grocers and supermarkets in Tel Aviv to remain open on Shabbat, after their original bylaw was rejected by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar in June.

A supermarket in Tel Aviv – Photo: Gideon Marcowicz

“The proposal is part of city’s fundamental stance on preserving the character of Shabbat in the city, providing necessary services to residents as had been done for years. This proposal maintains the Tel Aviv spirit, which sees the day of rest as a societal value in the Jewish nation, while still providing required services that allow each individual to have the freedom to enjoy their day of rest as they see fit,” a statement from the municipality said.

According the proposal, the city will be split into zones, with each zone being issued a number of permits for stores to be open on Shabbat. Each permit will be good for two years and will not be transferable. A lottery and rotation system will be put in place if permit applications exceed the number available. Grocers in central streets and commercial areas will be given a higher priority.

The municipality said care would be taken to prevent any open stores from disturbing certain areas, and as such no grocers will be allowed to be open right next to synagogues.

The municipality was forced to revise their bylaw after grocers petitioned against the city for not enforcing Shabbat on other supermarkets, the city had already been warned by the city before.

It is now up to Sa’ar to decide whether he accepts the new bylaw, or will veto it again. Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Assaf Zamir said the new bylaw is a “another phase in the fight between the municipality and minister’s decision. We will not stop until we know we exhausted all possible avenues to preserve the city’s character as an open, liberal city.”


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One comment

  1. Clea Belcher says:

    I can see their point in preserving the “Tel Aviv spirit.” This kindness seems to make sense. But what is the spirit of the Almighty? Will Israel and its leaders forever do what is right in their own eyes?

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