Jewish Journal

Selling Harry Potter on Shabbat against the law

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 18, 2007 | 3:04 pm

Who cares whether Harry Potter is a Christian, you’re about to get fined whatever his faith if you’re an Israeli bookseller planning on making bank when the final installment in the “Potter” series comes out Saturday morning. My colleague Adam Wills is talking about the story over at his blog, GeekHeeb.

Since it’s happening on Shabbat, Orthodox Israeli lawmakers are having apoplectic fits about bookstores staying open on the day of rest to take part in the Potter-mania. In fact, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai is threatening to fine stores that sell the book before Shabbat ends.

“Israeli law forbids businesses to force their employees to work on the Sabbath, and that applies in this case as well. The minister will fine and prosecute any businesses which violate the law,” Shas Party spokesman Roei Lachmanovich said.

That’s bad news, not just for Israeli Harry Potter fans—and what about observant Jews who will break Shabbat throughout the world to get a copy?—but particularly for Steimatzky, Israel’s largest bookseller, which says it has a contractual agreement to begin selling “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at the same time as everyone else.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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