Over the weekend, the proposal to place Kashruth supervisors in Israel Electric Company (IEC) stations to avoid violations of Shabbat faced a massive backlash and Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau has retracted the law from the Knesset Docket.
According to Landau, the proposed law was drafted out of safety concerns stemming from the practice of certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Modi’in and Beit Shemesh to use generators to power houses on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays rather than on the IEC grid. Those generators are considered to be dangerous as they power several houses at once and run the risk of causing serious injury via explosions or fires from overheating as a result of heavy use. The Kashruth supervisors would ensure that electricity workers do not violate Shabbat more than necessary.
The extreme Haredi communities that use the generators say that the way electricity is distributed over Shabbat violates Jewish Law and thus will not use the IEC gird over Shabbat. However, the Rabbinate permitted the current system citing the fact that a lack of electricity in the modern world would lead to the loss of the life as well as the massive financial loss from food spoilage and destruction of other modern conveniences.
Over the weekend, however, news of the law spread and mass protest erupted. A Facebook page denouncing the law was created on Wednesday and a protest was held outside of Landau’s home in Ra’anana on Friday morning. In addition, a petition was circulated online that gathered over 15,000 signatures. Protestors claimed the bill would essentially allow the Rabbinate to control the flow of electricity in the entire country and “turn out the lights over the weekend”. Former Shinui Knesset Member Avraham Poraz – legendary for antagonism towards the religious sector – declared the installation of Kashruth Supervisors to be "religious coercion" that would also "be extremely expensive".
On Sunday morning, Landau announced that he was withdrawing the bill but said that he would continue to find a way to rewrite the bill so that the use of generators in extreme Haredi enclaves stops completely.