JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s transportation minister has threatened to withdraw funding for a Tel Aviv bicycle rental project if it allows the bicycles to be used on Yom Kippur.
Israel Katz said Sunday that the operating of the Tel-O-Fun project on Yom Kippur "is crossing a red line and breaking all the norms. The Tel-o-Fun project is important, but regrettably, [Tel Aviv Mayor Ron] Huldai is using it for political ends, harming the holiest day of the Jewish people."
"This is an important and successful project," Katz added, "and the Ministry of Transport supports and even encourages the venture with budget allocations and the paving of bicycle paths. But if Huldai breaks all the rules and harms this sacred day of the Jewish people, I will cut off the ministry’s aid and support for the project."
While most Jews in Israel do not drive on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, many take advantage of the empty roads to ride their bikes freely.
The program did not operate last year on Yom Kippur.
City transportation official Moshe Tiomkin told the Israeli business daily Globes that "There is no reason why, on Yom Kippur, which is our most sacred day, to seek unnecessary conflict. Anyone who wants to ride a bicycle should use their own."
Under the holiday plan, bicycles will be rented before the start of the holiday and will be able to be returned afterward without an extra fee, so as not to offend the religious community.