Rabbis Threaten to Boycott Dor Alon

Business group owns AM:PM and other stores that operate on the Sabbath.

A committee of rabbinical leaders ratcheted up the battle against the Dor Alon gas station and convenience store chain yesterday.

Two leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis called on the religious Jewish community to boycott stores that fail to observe the Sabbath. The rabbis in question are the Admor of Gur and Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

Their list includes the Dor Alon group, which is highly exposed to this policy: its outlets include the Blue Square, Shefa Shuk - which may not operate on the Sabbath, but the AM:PM chain of grocery stores does. So do Alon gas stations throughout Israel. AM:PM operates only in the Tel Aviv area.

The rabbis have so far refrained from recommending a full boycott of such stores, and have adopted a "pre-consumer-boycott" stance, which forbids buying or using vouchers often used as holiday gifts. These vouchers should also not be donated to needy families.

In the meantime, the rabbis have asked Dor Alon's owners to close AM:PM groceries on the Sabbath.

Discussions between the rabbis and Dor Alon's controlling shareholder, David Wiessman, have been unsuccessful. As TheMarker reported earlier this week, Shefa Shuk CEO Uri Kaminsky resigned on the order of the rabbis.

The Dor Alon group itself was not immediately available for comment.

This is not the first time the two rabbis - the the Admor of Gur and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv - have taken part in the ultra-Orthodox community's battles against the desecration of the Sabbath.

The most recent, widely publicized battle was in late 2006, when the two rabbis signed an agreement ordering the religious community not to fly with El Al because it operated on the Sabbath after the company assisted passengers stuck overseas because of a strike at Ben-Gurion Airport.

In this case as well, the rabbis announced that the signed agreement would not be implemented for a limited period of time.

The boycott ended in a compromise, with El Al agreeing to appoint a consulting rabbi to advise the company on any similar disagreements in the future.

The deal stipulated that if the agreement were violated, cancellation fees on such flights would be donated to the Health Ministry's basket of drugs.