Israel Forms Two Lines Over Shopping on the Sabbath
It’s a bright Saturday morning and shopkeepers at the trendy Tel Aviv Port shopping mall are bracing for the thousands of Israeli families about to descend upon the city’s busiest outdoor retail promenade.
But among the first visitors many Saturdays is a city inspector, who goes store to store issuing $200 citations to business owners for violating Tel Aviv’s ordinance against conducting commerce on the Jewish Sabbath.
Small-shop owners fire off cellphone text messages to warn one another that the inspector is making the rounds; then they chase out customers and shut their doors until he passes. Larger chains shrug off the ticket as a cost of business, far overshadowed by the profits they stand to make. A single pair of jeans at the Levi’s store costs more than the fine.
Hoping to cash in on Israelis’ growing affluence and lust for shopping, malls, retailers, restaurants and cinemas are throwing open their doors on Saturdays. But the trend butts up against longtime government restrictions and infuriates religious groups that want the day preserved as one of rest.