Dozens of protesters took to the street opposite the prime minister’s house in Jerusalem Monday, but it wasn’t government policy they were demonstrating against. It was the threat of closure looming over the nearby Restobar café.
A longtime popular destination for the capital’s nonreligious public, the Restobar, formerly Café Moment, closed its doors after the establishment’s owner refused to renew the contract with the operators unless they follow strict Kashrut guidelines, including closing the premises on the Jewish Sabbath.
Channel 10 said that the owner is a French Jew who recently bought up several premises in the capital.
“Since we first established our business in the city, we have successfully battled for the right to maintain a secular lifestyle in the city we were born in, to eat and drink what we like, with no limitations or prohibitions… We always sanctified the secular lifestyle and insisted that we seculars be an equal minority in the city,” wrote Shahar and Abigail Levi on Restobar’s Facebook page. “It’s sad that in Jerusalem, in 2013, there are people who try to force others to accept an alien lifestyle, with a brutality that in an instant robbed 50 employees and dozens of suppliers of their livelihood.”
“There aren’t many places that operate on Shabbat in the city and it’s a shame that this one has been forced to close down,” Yakir Tal, a former employee, told Channel 10.
“I don’t go there myself because I am religious, but it’s one of the most famous establishments in the city and it’s a pity it has to close its doors,” said one protester. “It is important to me that there remain places in the city for secular people to spend the Sabbath in the way they choose to.”
In 2002, a suicide bomber killed 11 people at the eatery while it was still known as the Café Moment.