Israeli lawmaker wants Sundays off

Monday, May 14, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli Member of Knesset Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the National Religious Party (NRP), submitted a bill at the weekend to make Sunday an official day off of work in Israel.

Today, most Israelis take Fridays and Saturdays off, though only the latter is guaranteed by law as a day of rest.

Orlev wants Israel to come in line with most of the Western world by working Fridays and taking off Saturdays and Sundays. Additionally, the bill calls for doing away with laws prohibiting public transportation and other commercial and industrial activity on Saturday (Shabbat), so long as it does not disturb the religious sector.

Orlev told Israel Radio that his desire is to "allow all of the families in Israel to have a real day of rest, and ... one day dedicated to shopping, sports, or anything else."

The NRP chairman said many rabbis and senior lawmakers back his proposal. However, the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party publicly slammed the bill, insisting that it would lead to "widespread desecration of the Shabbat."

Since the nation's rebirth in 1948, Israeli law has protected the biblical sabbath as a day of rest. Any businesses operating on Saturday are subject to fines.

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