Posters have been slapped up all over town with a rabbinic ruling, signed by five haredi rabbis, forbidding their communities from shopping at the new Osher Ad supermarket. A little background is in order… This new supermarket, Osher Ad, opened three weeks ago to much fanfare in Bet Shemesh. There is a price and turf war raging throughout Israel with supermarket chains gobbling up real estate and new mall space to place their stores in strategic locations. Osher Ad is one of the newer discount chains that has had great success in Ashdod and recently in Maaleh Adumim. They are expanding greatly with their aggressive discount pricing in each new location. The established chains, most notably ShuferSal, has lowered their prices in Bet Shemesh to match and compete with Osher Ad’s rollout. This price war has even made it to the Knesset and trade ministry as the regulator is checking to ensure that there are no monopolistic practices here. Smaller chains, are having a hard time matching these deep discount prices. Likewise, larger discount chains, such as Rami Levy, who is planning to open stores in Bet Shemesh this year, are crying foul. One thing for sure is that the consumer is benefiting greatly during this price war.
Back to the haredim… The event that weighed heavily on this rabbinic ruling.
Three weeks ago, when the Osher Ad store was opened (in the Migdal Hamayim neighborhood, a mixed neighborhood mostly inhabited by Russians and Sephardim, a sign was placed at the entrance requesting all women to dress modestly (as is common practiced in the haredi sections of Bet Shemesh). When non-religious neighbors said that the sign offended them, it was removed. Enter the haredi rabbis and their boycott edict. (Note: Osher Ad is owned by two Gur Hasidim, ultra orthodox hasidim, The rabbis signing this edict represent the Lithuanian ultra-orthodox camp).