Feb 24, 2008
the newest cherem - maybe
There might be a new cherem cropping up.
Supposedly, there is now a cherem declared against shopping in the Shefa Shuk supermarket.
The reason why I say "supposedly" is because I have not seen the actual letter (a.k.a. pashkevil) declaring the cherem with the Rabbis signed on it. It was not in the Haredi press this past week. I have only seen it in one source, which would be today's newspaper "Yisrael HaYom" which is not typically the paper of choice used by the Haredi leadership to spread its news. Even on the Internet forums that discuss these issues, all the discussion is based on this one article and nobody has produced the original pashkevil. So I am suspicious as to the authenticity of the ban at this point.
"Cherem" is a hot word. It makes people think of big boycotts. It brings out debates for and against as if there is something extremely significant about it. In reality all this is is a consumer ban on a supermarket chain because a certain public does not like a certain policy. Consumer bans happen all the time all over the world. I think consumer bans are legitimate and the Haredi public has a right to avoid buying in Shefa Shuk as an attempt to get the owner to change his policy. Of course, the owner has the right to say he is not interested and tell them to go fly a kite. Then it is a matter of who has more staying power and if the Haredi public has adequate alternatives.
The ban is against buying from the Shefa Shuk Supermarket chain. Shefa Shuk is a chain of supermarkets that specializes in catering to the needs of the haredi/religious public. All items sold within are of mehadrin kashrus, prices are (supposedly) cheaper than the general market, more buying in bulk (but nothing like in a Sam's Club), etc. The reason for the ban is that the owner of Shefa Shuk, Dudi Weissman, also owns the Blue Square Co. which runs a chain of stores called AM:PM. These stores are open on Shabbos, and specifically there is one in Tel Aviv right next to a shul that is open on Shabbos.
A representative approached the management with a request to shut the store on Shabbos. When he refused, they contacted the Committee for Shabbos observance or something like it, who brought the issue to Rav Elyashiv. Rav Elyashiv agreed that Shefa Shuk should be banned unless the owner complies and closes AM:PM on Shabbos. There is no reason the Haredi public should continue shopping in Shefa Shuk while they also run a chain of stores that is open on Shabbos.
I am still looking for a copy of the original pashkevil and letter that was signed, or for another source. Until I do see it, I am skeptical as to the authenticity of such a cherem, even though it is very plausible.
In the meantime, I am watching with interest to see how this develops and who folds first...
sorry - I meant to post this. I normally would not post a scan of a newspaper article, but because I cannot yet find any original letter, this is all I've got at this point...