MembersOnly in Israel: Supermarket Honor System

It was Friday, just before Shabbat began. In Ramat Hasharon, the weather was so stormy that a local supermarket lost all power, leaving the clerks unable to check out any more customers.

By Michael Selutin |
Photo: Sophie Gordon / Flash 90

All those people would have nothing to serve for Shabbat dinner. Every other store was already closed, or soon would be. No one knew what to do, but they couldn’t go home empty-handed.

Supermarket manager Tzvi Abraham had to make a decision. He told the customers, “Take your groceries and go home. Come back and pay next week.” About a hundred customers walked out the door with full shopping carts without having paid a shekel. Abraham wondered if his decision would cost him his job.

On Sunday, about 70 percent of the customers returned to pay what was owed. Over the next couple of days, the rest returned, as well. They had made lists of their purchases, and some had even taken photos showing the products’ barcodes. The manager’s decision not only proved...

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