Shefa Shuk manager quits as rabbis intensify pressure

Advertisements in haredi newspapers call on readers to avoid buying in non-Sabbath observant stores.

Shefa Shuk chain manager Uri Kaminsky has resigned, as the dispute between the Alon Israel Oil Company Ltd. and rabbis from haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sects widens. Sources inform "Globes" that yesterday Kaminsky submitted his resignation to Alon subsidiary Blue Square Israel Ltd. (NYSE: BSI; TASE: BSI) CEO Zeev Warmbrand.

The dispute broke out three weeks ago when the Rabbinical committee of the main haredi organizational body, the Edah Haredit, published advertisements in local newspapers calling on the haredi public "not to maintain business contacts" with Alon Israel, nor with supermarket chains Blue Square and Shefa Shuk, because another store chain in the group, AM:PM, stayed open on Saturdays.

Alon Israel Oil Company is the parent firm of Blue Square, which maintains Shefa Shuk, and AM:PM.

Today, in advertisements in haredi newspapers "Yated Neeman" and "Hamodia", the rabbinical committee stated that the community should only buy from businesses that are Sabbath observant.

Rabbis and Alon executives have met several times since the outbreak of the controversy, but have not reached an agreement. According to Edah Haredit rabbinical committee secretary Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, today's advertisements were run when they decided that "everything was stalling tactics. We don't want to hurt anyone or any company, but we are informing our public, who listens to the rabbis, that they should buy in Sabbath observant stores." He noted that the advertisements had been signed by the rabbinical committee, so that "we are giving some sort of opening here if it is not answered, then the rabbis themselves will sign".

The Alon Group said today that it wishes Kaminsky luck, and that, under the contract between the two sides, the resignation would be effective in six months.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on March 31, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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