Avi Liberman
Avi Liberman

Orthodox Jews Protest Tel Aviv City Ordinance

A recent proposed ordinance by the Tel Aviv City Council has caused a bit of a stir in the Orthodox Jewish community. It seems as if a ban on serving alcohol in public places past 2AM and lasting until 5AM could cause a problem. There are two days during the year, due to daylight savings where the time to start morning prayers actually begins before 5AM. In the off chance that there is a Bris, or other celebrations where alcohol can be served, this could be a problem as synagogues are considered public places. Jews praying at a “Neitz Minyan”, one that starts at dawn could end up violating that ordinance in such a case. Obviously bars are the main focus of the ordinance, but it could still be an issue.

Zalman Friedberg of the Ger Chasidic sect had this to say, “I never really go to Tel Aviv and I really don’t care that much, but I feel I should make a big stink about it.” Other Orthodox also had strong opinions. Zushi Grossbaum, a resident of Jerusalem also was upset. “I’ve been to Tel Aviv like maybe three times in the past few years and it will have practically no effect on my life, but it could be devastating.”

There was also a concern that this could affect Orthodox Jews living abroad. After contacting Label Schmeltzer, a resident of Monsey NY, he was very upset. “I don’t live in Israel and I only visit every few years, but every now and then I will end up in a bar there possibly to meet some friends and I feel that not only could this be a problem if I end up at a minyan in the morning, but what if I want a drink after 2AM? I mean, granted I really don’t care, but I’m trying to send a message here!”

Secular residents of Tel Aviv were visibly upset at the Orthodox opinion. Ilan Bar Lev, a resident of Tel Aviv for over 10 years saw no reason for them to even comment. “What business is it of theirs? I mean when are they ever in Tel Aviv anyway? How often do they come to bars here? And for the ones that live abroad to even be upset by it, I find a little silly. I go to the bars every night, day in and day out. When do they come here, once every few years? It’s ridiculous. I know people who live 45 minutes away in Jerusalem and they never come here either so honestly they should just stay out of it.” Gideon Alon, another resident had this to say,” How would they like it if when it came to the Kotel, a place where they go every day and I never really go, that they uhhh… well, that uhhh things should… whatever! You know what I’m getting at”.

While the ordinance has not officially been passed, only time will tell if tensions will ease in the coming weeks and if it will affect visitations to Tel Aviv by Orthodox Jews in the future.

About the Author
Avi Liberman is a stand-up comic who was born in Israel, raised in Texas and now lives in Los Angeles. Avi founded Comedy for Koby, a bi-annual tour of Israel featuring some of America's top stand-up comedians.