Tel Aviv Angers Religious Israelis By Seeking To Operate Bus Routes On Shabbos


tel-aviv-busIn the latest salvo in Israel’s simmering cultural war between religious and secular Jews, municipal authorities in the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv have outraged the country’s religious establishment with a decision to launch bus service on Shabbos.

The effort – likely to be blocked by the government – comes as the country’s powerful religious minority faces increasing pressure over what many perceive to be attempts to impose religious tenets on the rest of the country.

Also today, as reported earlier here on, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled against extending the “Tal Law” that lays out a plan by which Torah Jews would perform deferred and limited military service.

The law was seen as a compromise attempt to bring them into the army, but had little effect and was seen as a failure.

There is no public transportation in most Israeli cities – mixed Jewish-Arab Haifa being a notable exception – on Shabbos and Yom Tov. But the city council of largely secular Tel Aviv voted late Monday to draft a request to Israel’s Transportation Ministry to allow lines to operate on Shabbos.

“Israel is the only country in the world in which there is no public transportation in one out of four days, on Saturdays and holidays,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement Tuesday. “We must ask ourselves – what does a person who can’t afford to buy a car and wants to visit his family or go to the beach do?”

The national transportation ministry had no comment.

Public transportation is decided on the national level, so the city has no power to enforce such a move. But should the bill be rejected, as expected, Tel Aviv’s city hall said it will establish an independent transportation company to run the buses.

Rav Yisroel Meir Lau, the city’s chief rabbi, said Tuesday he felt “great pain and deep disappointment” with the plan and called on the mayor to reverse it.

“This is a severe blow to the sanctity of Shabbat,” he said in a statement. “The city council recommendation harms the status quo upon which the policies of all Israeli governments are based.”

{Yair Israel, The Associated Press contributed to this report.}


  1. “We must ask ourselves – what does a person who can’t afford to buy a car and wants to visit his family or go to the beach do?”

    You must ask yourselves, is your state of “Israel” a Jewish country as you claim? Apparently it is not, for you have only questions and no answers, but we, Jews, have only answers and no questions.

  2. This should be interesting. The chareidim within the green line are not allowed to establish independent transportation companies in order to have separate buses. Will Tel Aviv be allowed to establish an independent tranportation company in order to ch”v be mechalel Shabbos?