Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar condemned on Thursday Shabbat desecration in the capital, particularly in light of the recent opening of the Yes Planet cinema complex.
Speaking to radio station Kol Barma, Amar expressed hope that contact with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on the subject would bear fruit.
"I spoke many times with the mayor and he promised me [to put a stop to public Shabbat desecration] and he assured me he will send me letters as proof he is acting in a positive direction," Amar said.
"So he told me, and I, with God's help, plan to check. He listened and I hope that other mayors will listen and learn as well," Amar added.
According to Amar, "all rabbis in Israel must gather together and defend themselves. Shabbat is the soul of Israel. Shabbat protects us."
The rabbi stressed that the issue of Shabbat observance in the public sphere extends beyond halakha and is a public necessity.
"We must stand up for Shabbat, it is the soul of the Israeli people. We must not be weak in standing up for it. Whoever keeps and blesses Shabbat will certainly be blessed in return," he concluded.
The debate over stores and business keeping Shabbat sparked up again on Wednesday, after a major Tel Aviv company fined a store for closing on Shabbat in alignment with traditional Jewish practice – and the common Israeli business model.
In response, MK Mickey Zohar (Likud) submitted a bill that would outlaw forcing a business owner to work on Saturdays as a condition for joining a company or franchise, and would fine business owners who ignore the directive.
"It is unacceptable that in the Jewish state, where Shabbat is a day of rest, a citizen can be fined for respecting Shabbat observance," Zohar stated. "This is a despicable act that harms our Jewish identity."