Knesset Says No To Public Transportation On Shabbos


egged-busThe Knesset on Wednesday rejected a bill calling for public transportation on Shabbos following a heated discussion. Thirty-six lawmakers voted against the proposal, submitted by Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), and only seven supported it.

Minister Moshe Kahlon, who represented the government during the session, said that “there are many reasons – the status quo, hurting people’s feelings – for the government’s objection. There is no need to change the status quo.”

In a bid to convince his fellow lawmakers to support the bill, MK Horowitz stated that a failure to vote in favor of the proposal would make it impossible to solve the transportation crisis in Israel.

“Whoever owns a private car doesn’t need it. But whoever doesn’t is being discriminated against – for no reasonable explanation,” he said.

Horowitz noted that despite the claims on the status quo not allowing public transportation on Shabbos, this is already taking place. “Egged lines operate in Haifa. There are ‘sherut’ taxis violating Shabbat at the Transportation Ministry’s approval. And Ben-Gurion Airport is open on Shabbat.

“These games of yours are a sort of deception. No one will give up their private car if there’s no public transportation on their day off.”

During the discussion, an argument broke out between Horowitz and MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), chairman of the Knesset’s Finance Committee, who explained that operating public transportation on Shabbos would deprive workers of their weekly day of rest.

Gafni slammed Horowitz, asking “Will the garage workers work on Shabbat? Will the lunchrooms operate on Shabbat? You’re in favor of slaves… You want slaves to work on Shabbat.”

One of the main claims against operating public transportation on Shabbos that it would damage the State’s Jewish identity. As Shabbos is one of the foundations of Judaism, many in the public – especially in the religious sector, but not only, are against any activity that would harm this identity.

Addressing this issue, MK Horowitz claimed that public transportation could be operated in a limited manner, and in places without a charedi majority, so as not to hurt the religious public’s feelings.

Desspite of the ban on public transportation on Shabbos, it turns out that local initiatives have managed to change the status quo.

On Tuesday, the Cholon Municipality announced its plan to operate a special bus to Tel Aviv in order to help young partygoers. The new line will leave for Tel Aviv on Friday nights every 30 minutes, from 11 pm to 1 am, and will return to Holon from 1 to 4 am.

Cholon Mayor Motti Sasson explained, “After we realized that the Transportation Ministry’s night bus does not meet party goers’ needs on Friday nights, we decided to take it upon ourselves to expand the service and operate a similar bus on Friday nights.

“Our main desire,” he added, “is to see the city’s young residents return home safely after hanging out in Tel Aviv until the small hours of the night without requiring drivers on duty and without spending money on taxis and petrol. Friday nights are a recipe for disaster, and we’re glad that as a local authority we can provide assistance in an area where the State’s hands are tied.”

{Ynet/ Newscenter}


  1. Baruch HaShem the government is still holding fast on this one. Yes, the buses run in “Red Haifa” but that in itself is a “status quo,” since Haifa has always been secular. Local municipalities doing something here or there is one thing, but legalizing hillul Shabbat for the whole country really would destroy the status quo. Hopefully the members of the Knesset will always be able to see past the current conflict’s tofel to recognize the ikar of Jewishness.

  2. This I hope excludes emergency evacuations if need be on Shabbos using public transportation if they need to be conducted en masse.

  3. There is no transportation crisis in Israel. There most likely is a financial crisis in Meretz. So as is usual for them, they start trouble to whip up support for their finances.

    Aryeh Zelasko
    Beit Shemesh

  4. A short story:
    One Fri night I was invited out to the home of Rav Avigder Cyperstien ZT”L for the Shabbos Seudah. As we turned the corner of Rechov Ramban heading into Rechov Keren Hayesod, the Rav burst out crying. Asking what happened, he pointed to the traffic and said that all that chillul Shabbos was HIS fault. I looked at him puzzled. He explained that the mizrachi movement hanhala had sent a telegram to PM Ben Gurion when the issue of public Shabbos transportation was being debated in the Knesset. ” I signed my name to the telegram that they should outlaw public transport all over the country -except Chaifa. We felt we couldn’t win on Chaifa, and it would be ‘tofasta meruba’.
    ” And that caused a pirtza in Eretz Yisroel! And that’s why there’s chilul Shabbos here in Yerushalayim now” he cried.
    What a Tzadik. Koina olamoi berega achas!