September 29th 2015, First Day Chol Ha Moed.
My concern is about businesses open on Shabat, and in particular one supported by UJA Federation NYC.
The Jerusalem Café, which is located in the middle of Independence Park, was built by a municipally-owned company but the land was sold to a private developer. The fact that the land is privately owned means that ultra-Orthodox elected officials have no authority to lobby for the café to be closed on Shabbat.
The Independence Park café and other cafés in the center of the city join the First Station, an entertainment complex near the city’s German Colony neighborhood, -are all open on Shabbat. The opening of new businesses on Shabbat are opposed by members of the ultra-Orthodox community and also members of the secular community, their protests are to no avail. Yes, this is also opposed by our secular neighbors and our representative in the City Council, Offir Lang. Now it appears that the city is targeting certain area businesses for fining when they open on Shabat and other targeted areas businesses will be allowed to be open on Shabat.
If my readers are familiar with distinguished members of the Board of Directors of UJA-Federation, I am requesting your help in 4 areas:
1.Clarification of UJA Federation Policy in regards to funding public programs that attempt to welcome unaffiliated Jews but in effect desecrate Shabat in Jerusalem.
2. That UJA Federation withdraw support from such organizations, namely “A New Wind”.
3. If Birthright, a UJA Federation supported program, the largest organization bringing young people to Israel, prohibit activities on Shabat, then why does a restaurant need to be open on Shabat with the support by UJA Federation?
Can you imagine the shock and disbelief that I felt when I saw UJA Federation NYC in an advertisement supporting “a homy Jerusalem with music to grove on Shabat”. This ad (please see attachment, was published on the back of the weekly “City Mouse” www.mouse.co.il 11/9/15-24/9/15. Feeling welcome! it says. (see photo)
Tens of thousands of visitors are fed magnanimously at the tables of observant Jews in Jerusalem every Shabat. Jews from Dallas Texas, Bershevah, Elat, and from across the globe who want to experience Shabat are welcomed.
I doubt that the regular Jewish restaurant workers are given the day off. It’s incomprehensible, that the American Consulate across the street on Agron is closed on Shabat and their workers given a day of rest, but our Jewish workers don’t have that right. Please explain why UJA supports financially opening of a restaurant on Jerusalem city park land? Sold or not it’s still part of the park. When I lived in New York City, every community agency, whether the Educational Alliance, or the “Y’s were closed on Shabat. Has that changed too?
The Mayor, yes is up to his neck with disturbances of a violent nature throughout the city. Mayor Birkat has a vision of a city that runs 24/7. He is intractable on this regard. Our community in the City Center is opposed to the restaurant openings. Our group consists of secular and observant Israelis, who don’t want to change the status quo. We hold Friday night services in front of a restaurant that is open on Shabat on Rechove Shaatz. Passersby are invited to join families to hear Kiddush and stay for dinner.
A woman from Dallas remarked that she had never seen Jews publicly hold a service outside. She felt very proud.
This year, Israelis and visitors alike will have the opportunity to take part in history by joining the fourth Hakhel gathering at the Western Wall. Even though details are not yet finalized, the ceremony is expected to take place on the second day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot (Wednesday, September 30) around 5 p.m., and President Reuven Rivlin is expected to officiate at the Hakhel. Will the city also allow the restaurant in Gan Ha Atz Ma Ot (not kosher) to open on that following Yom Tov?.
This coming up October 24th, Shabat families from all over the world, will be celebrating Shabat for the first time through the Shabas Project. I am embarrassed to say that our city will allow the park restaurant and others like it to be open.
4. If you have any powers of persuasion, please raise the aforementioned issues with your fellow UJA Federation Board. members and with Mayor Birkat and the Jerusalem City Council. Please, members of UJA Federation NYC desist from supporting activities that desecrate the Shabat in Jerusalem.
You are encouraged to print this article or parts to parties in America.