Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sundays...for the Sake of Israel

Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu requested that Professfor Eugene Kandel, the Chairman of the National Economic Council, to examine the possibility of making Sunday an additional day of rest in addition to Shabbat/Saturday.

According to the proposal, Saturday and Sunday will be official days of rest while Friday will become a half day work-wise...and an extra 30 - 60 minutes would be added to Monday to Thursday's workdays. (source)

Netanyahu requested that the committee bring recommendations by the Winter Plenum of the Knesset in 4 more months.

Who is against?

- The Arabs will demand from the Supreme Court to over-rule this option, since Friday is the Muslim "day of rest"

- Manufacturing / High Tech Companies already get more than 8.5 hours a day from workers, so requiring an extra 30-60 minutes will be irrelevant, Friday will not be much for a work day...and now Sunday will be chopped from the work week. If the Sunday "day of rest" passes into law, I predict that salaries in the high tech sector will be slashed by 5-15%.

- There will be problems for people who need to get home before Shabbat in the winter-time, and I'm sure traffic will be a nightmare.

- There are probably halachik issues with working on Friday afternoon (I recall hearing some of them a few years ago)

Why its crucial?

Today, there is so much conflict within Israel surrounding the day of Shabbat; should there be public transportation, what should be open, what entertainment should be available? Creating Sunday as an additional day of rest would greatly reduce the tension and in-fighting within the country. Everyone would agree that Sunday would be a relaxing day...with public transportation and all shopping centers and entertainment locations would be open.

Finally, there could be social interaction between more sectors of society on a day without the religious restrictions of Shabbat.

Children could do more project related homework, with the help of their parents.

Families could go on trips, enjoy recreational time, participate in a variety of social, cultural, educational and sport activities.

People would be more relaxed, blood pressures would go down, and there would be a reduction in traffic accidents.

For the sake of Israel's future - I believe that Sunday, as an additional day of rest for Israel -- is a must.

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Tehillah said...

I disagree - for the very reasons you listed:
1) hi-tech salaries will be slashed (and they're already ridiculously out of sync with the cost of living here)
2) there will be problems getting home on time on Friday to prepare for Shabbat
3) there are halachic issues with working on Friday afternoon

4) people will NOT be more relaxed because Fridays will be tension-filled with blood pressures rising in a rush to beat the clock to have everything ready on time. And this could cause an increase in traffic accidents from people fighting to get home on time.

5) I don't know if you've ever lived in the US - and if so, when - but having Sundays off doesn't cause most parents to participate in their kids school projects. Either they're conscientious parents and they do it when they can, or they don't do it at all. Sunday has nothing to do with parental participation.

6) Do you honestly believe that social interaction between haredim and secular Israelis will increase for the better because they share a common rest day?! (what are you smoking?)

7) If public transportation, shopping centers and entertainment locations are open on Sundays, then gee - I think that means SOMEBODY HAS TO WORK! = more division between social classes

8) "Everyone would AGREE that Sunday would be a relaxing day"?!!! I'm rolling on the floor!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Tehilla - here are my responses:

1. Why are high tech salaries "ridiculously out of sync with the cost of living here" -- I'm sorry, but I respectfully disagree. Its all supply and demand.

2. I wrote in my post that getting home for Shabbat could be a problem -- people will leave earlier on Fridays in the winter and later in the summer.

3. There are bigger halachik issues with all the chilul shabbat on Shabbat, because there is no alternative day of rest.

4. More relaxed on Fridays? My Friday are already crazy TODAY...AS IS. "Beating the Clock" is a weekly occurance. I suggest you read the classic post here on Erev Shabbat Craziness: Link.

5. Actually, I grew up in the USA, and Sundays were the only day I had to go to the library and research projects. Sunday was for little league and baseball. Sunday was for reading. Sunday was going to parks and barbeques. Actually, its the only thing I miss from Chutz Laaretz.

6. What am I smoking? Tell me, how much do YOU interact with secular Jews in Israel? If you aren't the problem is with you...why aren't you making it a point to interact with them? Sundays would be a PERFECT opportunity...since there is NO OTHER DAY OF THE WEEK POSSIBLE.

7. Nobody HAS to work on Sundays -- and if they do, they get overtime pay.

8. Seems like you are already quite relaxed as is -- maybe the rest of us deserve a break as well?

Neshma said...

I agree; however, I would not add on hours during the week, or reduce pay. Let it be an 'intifada' gift, early Fridays and the Arabs can stay home if they want. The Jews/Israelis need a break.

Anonymous said...

Another more modest proposal: A 5 day school week, Sunday - Thursday. Kids will spend less hours in front of the TV in the PM, less transportation and electricity expense related to school facilities since no Fridays. And Friday becomes a leisure day (for those who can be organized about it).

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous: Unfortunately, Fridays are never a leisure day because of Shabbat preparations. I've never managed to really have a leisurely Friday.

JoeSettler said...

I used to be a big proponent of Sundays off, but I am no longer so sure.

The plan has one big advantage: To be able to go out for an entire day with the family without having to worry about being back in time for Shabbos and preparing the food.

But that's about it.

The disadvantages are much bigger.

1. Sunday is a great day for global businesses. Sure it starts slow (like Monday's in America), but it gives us a day's head start on the rest of the world in terms of productivity.

2. Who the hell wants to officially work a 10 hour day (unless you're in hi-tech, and there you work more anyway), just to make up the missing Sunday and half of Friday?

3. Who actually thinks that a 9.5-10 hour work day will be more (or even, as) productive as an 8 hour work day (outside of high tech)?

4. I think most office workers are already working 5 days a week. I don't know many office workers that work on Friday. Store clerks and the like will work shift hours anyway (and probably on Sunday too).

5. I don't necessarily want my kids home from school. I like that they have school on Friday mornings, and on Sunday.

Having said all that, having a day to be able to go out together with the family without having to rush home would be great.

Perhaps the first Sunday of each month could be designated as work-free. Businesses would lose less of their advantage, and we wouldn't really have to change over everyone's work schedule to one that is not likely to be as productive.

Tehillah said...

Jameel, you're jumping to conclusions. I'm dati, live in a mixed neighborhood and interact with secular Jews on a daily basis. And there is a day every week when it's possible to spend special time to socialize with them, it's called SHABBAT. Not all secular Israelis are opposed to joining people like us for a Shabbat meal or talking with us in the park while our kids play together. Our social challenges are not religious - they're language; we have Russians, Ethiopians, Americans and Europeans in our immediate neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe such a law is going to improve our lives in Israel. A better option IMHO would be for employers to be encouraged to offer flexible work schedules (when it won't harm their business - and in many cases it helps) so that employees can choose whether they prefer Sunday or Friday (or some other day) off. That is what many US employers do, so if Israel is trying to model itself on what the world is doing, that would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

i dont think working on friday is such a big deal
hundreds of thousands orthodox jews do it now in north america and europe without a problem, yes it means that during the winter you cant put in a full day but that is what anti-discrimination laws are here for

if sun were to become a day of rest then people who do work on sunday should be paid overtime the increase in expense in staying open on sunday will be offset by the increase in consumers able to shop and participate in recreational activities on a day that the entire country can participate in.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned how working on sunday and NOT friday has effected the TASE and the financial sector in Israel. now that we are part of the OECD and the rest of the worlds financial markets are in such a disarray Israel has become a valuable place to put your money in a foreign market account, putting our financial system in line with the rest of the world will only help

aliyah06 said...

I've lived in Israel for 5 years now. Since I found a job, I have yet to have a "weekend off" where I can actually go somewhere with my husband and kids. I work S-Th, get up early and shop Friday mornings, cook, clean and get ready for Shabbat on Friday, and my son is in school on Fridays -- then we're home for Shabbat or at most within walking distance. I've never been to the Ben Shemen forest or Tiberias or anywhere--because I work FT and am observant. Give ME a day off, please, so I can get off this stressful schedule. I have NO day to unwind, NO day without any obligations. Don't tell me to shop during the week! Or to cook on Thursday--because I'm exhausted at the end of the work day, since I routinely put in 9 hour days, and if I get behind, I work Fridays while the chicken is cooking.

This is a ridiculous way to live. The advantage to people who work Sundays is that they (like people in the States) will get overtime. So people who want to make a little more will be glad to work Sundays and take a different day off.

Anonymous said...

The worst traffic jams are on Yom HaZikaron /Erev Yom Ha'Atzmaut when all of Israel works a half day. Suffer through that every Friday?! And, as if we don't get home late enough already, working an extra hour Monday-Thursday?! We for will all need a Sunday to recover!

Anonymous said...

People, you forget something. Workers (in the public sector at least) have more than 30 days vacation a year. This already gives more than double what Americans get in vacation. Add to that miluim/extended maternity leaves, and people work a lot less here than there. Competing with the global economy (and with its academic research, my field) is almost impossible with the work week as is. Giving up Sunday as a work day would be a death blow.

jmminy said...

When do you think American Shabbat observers prepare for Shabbat? Thursday night.

If you can do that too, then you can have a half day of rest and relaxation -- on Friday!

If you can't then you will be forced to anyway because you'll be working on Friday!

NormanF said...

I don't think so. If money is a consideration, give every one off Thursday or Sunday so they can have free time.

It would reduce conflict with observant Jews since people who chafe at Shabbat restrictions would be able to do things they want without desecrating Shabbat. And people would actually look forward to taking Shabbat as G-d intended.

We have every right to improve on our Creator. As long as a word in the Torah is not changed. And no one is proposing to change it with an extra day of rest.

Yishai said...

Having Sundays off would help Aliyah for sure! Jews in most of the rest of the world as used to a relaxing Sunday. Olim have always had trouble getting used to Sunday-as-Monday.

People work too much already (or, as with the unemployed and charedim, either they don't work enough). Let's have BOTH Sunday and Friday as full holidays! Muslims would like it. There would still be school for kids on Friday (sorry, teachers!) so parents could prepare for Shabbat or work on their own projects or other work.

Most of the world already has a 5-day work week -- why not cut it down to a 4-day work week without making us work more hours each day!? Why does work have to take up our whole lives anyway? Our basic necessities do not have to cost that much.

With people working the same daily hours on only 4 days a week, there would be more work to spread around. This would make it easier for charedim to enter the labor force in large numbers, which has to happen someday anyway, and could even help unemployment among the Palestinians. It would also make it easier for olim to find work.

Come'on Israel! G-d gave us the 6-day work week thousands of years ago. Now give us the 4-day work week! Imitating G-d's merciful attributes is, after all, an all-important ethical duty (according to the Gemara!)

Anonymous said...

Looks like I'm your only non-shomer shabbat reader in Israel, so let me assure you and anyone who thinks otherwise that I, and all the other "chilonim", would still be mechallel shabbat if I had a Sunday to play with as well.

It is a stupid idea in this current formulation. As usual, the policy-makers haven't thought it through properly and it will be killed off.

George said...

I am totally against this half-baked idea, which I'm sure hasn't been totally thought through. I currently work in hi-tech, where my official day is nine hours and my actual day is usually ten to ten and a half hours. That's a working week of 50 - 52 hours. If we go to a 4.5 day working week, I will have to fit in 44 - 46 hours into four days. Thank you, but no thank you.

Another thing that hasn't been thought through is the traffic problems on Fridays, especially in the winter. If today, starting times are staggered between 7 am to 10 am and finishing times between 4 pm and 8 pm (and sometimes later), on a Friday everybody will be starting between 7 am to 8 am and finishing between 1 pm to 2 pm. The traffic will be horrendous.

Another reason I don't believe in this idea is that Uriel Lynn is assuring us that it is for the good of the country. For those of you who have short memories (or moved here in the last 8 years), Uriel Lynn was one of the "geniuses" who brought us the direct election of the Prime Minister, telling us that one of its benefits would be the end of coalition haggling. Anybody who had thought through the idea would have realised that the exact opposite would be true.

I think that the major reason behind the move is purely to keep Silvan Shalom's name in the headlines and to ensure that he gets a high place in the Likud list for the next Knesset. That is no way to run a country

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

To the anonymous non-shomer shabbat commenter: Welcome! :-)

I don't think anyone expects more shmirat shabbat if we make Sunday a rest-day as well, but I think it could lower the tensions of the secular community (or make the current status quo more palatable) vis-a-vis the lack of public transport on Shabbat.

What do you think?



JoeSettler said...

Direct Elections for PM was an excellent idea. The problem is that it was implemented stupidly.

The PM didn't have defined separate powers (as well as checks and balances between him, the Knesset, and the Judiciary) and thus was reliant on the Knesset for everything anyway, and the Judiciary does what it wants regardless.

The Knesset members weren't elected directly, so it still came down to coalition politics.

And the PM still had to primarily take MKs as cabinet members, instead of professionals, technocrats, or whoever, meaning that coalition politics still played a too central role in the PM office.

They really didn't understand the US system, and assumed that direct elections of the President was the only difference between our political systems.

Anonymous said...


George said...


We can agree to disagree as to whether or not the concept of direct elections of the PM is a good one. However, we both agree that the implementation was abysmal. It is precisely for this reason that when Uriel Lynn says that moving to this new working week model is good for the country, my initial opposition is only confirmed.

Amihai said...

And what about just a half-day off, like tuesday afternoon or wednesday, from 1 PM ?
Not as problematic as a full day, and it still give people a lot of free time.

JoeSettler said...

To: R. Halevy

Your comments are not being censored or erased. But for some (technical) reason they aren't being posted onto the blog. Perhaps you are erasing them by accident after you post them.
Try again.

Holy Hyrax said...

>People would be more relaxed, blood pressures would go down

I have been saying this for YEARS now.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

R. HaLevy -

There's a problem with blogger's comments -- I did NOT ERASE a single comment here, and in general, comments are only deleted here if they are extremely offensive or create a liability for libel.

Holy: Glad to see you're still around :)

Amihai: The problem is that most companies would still not let their employees leave a half day on a Tuesday...and would consider it a "reccomendation only" (the private sector would make it difficult to leave)

Rabelad said...

As far as the Muslims go, Friday is NOT a day of rest for them. Mohamed was asked the question of whether Muslim should regard Friday as a day of rest and he specifically said no, that it was bad for business. In Islam Friday is a day of assembly at mosque, not a day of rest. Walk through the Muslim Quarter of J'lem's Old City on Friday mid-morning and the place is bustling with commerce.

westbankmama said...

I agree with you Jameel - give us Sundays off! I have friends that I see about once a year, because with our families it is tough to invite each other for Shabbat. I'd love to be able to get together on a Sunday for a picnic with friends!!!!

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