A committee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to consider the feasibility of implementing a five day work week is expected to meet again today and publish its findings after the holidays.
Many of us have heard this idea come up before, but until now, it has not made much progress. I believe it is time that Israelis stand up and demand that we join the rest of the western world with a two day weekend. I cannot say it clear enough; Israelis need Sundays off!
I recently returned from spending the summer in America, living on an American schedule. I worked from Monday to Friday and my children were off from school. While we were able to enjoy each Shabbat together as always, the only day we all got to go out together as a family was Sunday. It saddens me to think that I may have to wait until next summer to do it again.
Everyone deserves a day each week to do whatever they wish. If you observe Shabbat you have no day to take your children to the mall, the zoo, or the beach. If you are not religious, than most things are closed on your only day off. This creates a stressful atmosphere for all of us and it causes resentment toward Shabbat observance. It may even be possible that having Sundays off could reduce some of that resentment and reduce tensions between religious and secular Israelis.
There are other reasons to have Sundays off. I am sure I am not the only one bothered that children attend school 6 days a week and still have assignments to do at home. When are kids supposed to relax, sleep late, see their friends, or ride their bike?
Although some Sunday work and school hours would have to be made up between Monday and Friday, it may be possible for schools and businesses to reduce costs should workers and students only need to travel 5 times a week instead of 6. Energy costs for things like air conditioning and heating could also be lowered. We are an export based economy, and Sundays are not essential to international trade.
Obviously not everyone can be off every Sunday. Retail businesses and entertainment venues would be open. Soldiers and other essential services would still be required. There may also be factories that need to keep their production lines running. Still, having one day where the majority of Israelis can relax and patronize stores and restaurants would be beneficial to all of us.
If you have any doubts that Israelis would benefit from having Sundays off, just think how happy most Israelis are on Independence Day. We relax, we smile, we have a BBQ. That is what Sunday feels like. While most of the western world has it once a week. Israelis only have it once a year. Lets change that. We deserve it.