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Court: Jerusalem Cinema Must Close on Shabbat

Supreme court says secular movie megacomplex must rest on the seventh day

Lily Wilf
March 17, 2014
One of 15 movie theaters in Jerusalem's new Cinema City. (iTravelJerusalem)
One of 15 movie theaters in Jerusalem's new Cinema City. (iTravelJerusalem)

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that a newly opened movie complex in Jerusalem must remain closed on Shabbat. The Cinema City complex, which has 15 theaters and approximately 50 restaurants and shops, opened last month amidst controversy that began in 2010 when its owners were issued a building permit that stipulated that the complex close for business on Shabbat, JTA reports.

The Finance Ministry and Jerusalem Municipality’s 2010 edict stated that because the complex was built on government property, it must be closed on Shabbat like all other government offices. But in May, nearly 500 demonstrators took to the streets of Jerusalem to protest the decision to force the complex to close in observance of Shabbat, arguing that shuttering the cinema on Shabbat is a form of religious coercion for Jerusalem residents.

In its ruling on Sunday, the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 Shabbat mandate, but suggested that the Jerusalem municipality renegotiate the contract with Cinema City and allow the City Council to vote on it.

Lily Wilf is an editorial intern at Tablet.