JERUSALEM (JTA) — An entertainment and cultural complex built in a former 19th-century train station in Jerusalem will continue to operate on Shabbat, the city’s mayor said.
Mayor Nir Barkat told the local news website Kol Ha’ir that he will allow the First Station complex to continue to operate as it has since it opened five years ago, despite a motion passed on Wednesday.
The site, built along a former railroad line converted into a bike and jogging path, has become highly popular among Jerusalem residents and tourists. Secular business owners and residents say shutting down the shops on Shabbat is a capitulation to haredi Orthodox interests.
The Jerusalem municipal council passed the motion sponsored by the haredi Orthodox parties to close the complex on Shabbat by a vote of 15 to 10.
The final decision lies with the district committee of the Finance Ministry which could take up the issue on Thursday.
“As the person under whose leadership the station was built, Mayor Nir Barkat is certain there will be no change at the station and it will continue to operate according to the status quo in Jerusalem,” a statement from Barkat’s office said.
Under the status quo, restaurants as well as cultural and leisure activities can remain open on Friday night and Saturdays.