On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet gave its blessing to a pilot project to create “kosher” energy storage facilities that ultra-Orthodox Jews might use instead of using Shabbat-generated energy.
The first stage of the project, if the bill is passed into law, will cost $27 million and entail building a 300-acre plant to supply electricity to the largely haredi city of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv.
Israel Katz, the energy minister, promised that the effort wouldn’t be funded by price increases and said that the general people might use stored electricity during periods of high demand.
Given that electricity is produced by Jews working at stations nationwide, many in the ultra-Orthodox community are against its supply on the Jewish Day of Rest.
To avoid using electricity from the national grid for their lights and other gadgets, they leave it on throughout the holy day; some Haredim run private generators on Shabbat.
“The ultra-Orthodox community wants to use power on Shabbat that complies with Jewish law, or Halachah. An explanatory note attached to the measure passed on Sunday states that the current solution to this problem is the usage of generators, which pose a safety risk, are expensive, and pollute the environment.
According to the statement, “There is an opportunity to provide a suitable alternative solution that will satisfy the population’s special needs and is safer and cleaner in light of the technological development of storage facilities with the required capacity.”
The proposal must still move through Knesset committees to become law and win three votes in the full plenum.