Con­cern as char­ity shops forced to open on Shab­bat

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A CHAIN of char­ity shops which pre­dom­i­nantly sup­ports Jewish causes has de­fended its de­ci­sion to open some of its out­lets on Shab­bat.

Howard Brecker, chair­man of All Aboard, said it had pi­loted Satur­day open­ing in 10 out of its 18 shops be­cause of “huge pres­sure” on the sec- tor. He made it clear that no Jewish staff mem­ber or vol­un­teer “has or will be re­quested to work on a Satur­day. That is non-ne­go­tiable.”

But one of All Aboard’s pre­vi­ous ben­e­fi­cia­ries, the United Sy­n­a­gogue, said it would now have to re­view its re­la­tion­ship with the char­ity.

One Or­tho­dox woman who re­cently do­nated clothes to an All Aboard shop said the Satur­day open­ing “would bother me. As a front for Jewish char­i­ties, they should be up­hold­ing Shab­bat at least. This will change the way I feel about it.”

In 2015, All Aboard gave lit­tle more than £12,000 to char­i­ties from a turnover of £2.1 mil­lion — com­pared to do­na­tions of £160,000 the pre­vi­ous year. Pro­ceeds have gone to a range of Jewish char­i­ties as well as gen­eral med­i­cal causes.

Mr Brecker at­trib­uted the drop in 2015 to the in­tro­duc­tion of a new ware­house dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem.

“All char­i­ties were in­formed in ad­vance and all un­der­stood,” he ex­plained. But he an­tic­i­pated that

All Aboard — which has given more than £2 mil­lion to char­ity in 30 years — would re­turn to “pre­vi­ous do­na­tion lev­els by 2018”.

The char­ity had had to con­tend with the gen­eral im­pact of on­line shop­ping, he ex­plained. “The char­ity shop sec­tor is un­der huge pres­sure. Not just in terms of items re­ceived for sale, but also in re­spect of sales to cus­tomers.”

Many char­ity shops ex­pe­ri­enced their busiest trad­ing on Satur- days, he added.

“In the lim­ited num­ber of shops in which we have tri­aled these new open­ing hours, we have al­ready seen an up­turn in goods de­posited with us on Satur­days and an up­turn in sales.”

Many Jewish char­i­ties, he con­tin­ued, “re­ceive funds from events and ini­tia­tives that take place on or over a Shab­bat. This, to our mind, is no dif­fer­ent.”

But a spokesman for the United Sy­n­a­gogue said: “We will need to have a dis­cus­sion with All Aboard to con­firm what ar­range­ments they have made, as we may not be able to ben­e­fit from money they raise if this con­tra­venes ha­lachah [Jewish law].”

All Aboard was founded by Stella Lu­cas, the wife of a for­mer United Sy­n­a­gogue pres­i­dent.

Jonathan Joseph, chair­man of an­other char­ity, Lang­don, which helps young peo­ple with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, said: “All Aboard has been ex­cep­tion­ally kind to Lang­don both in of­fer­ing a num­ber of our mem­bers paid and un­paid em­ploy­ment and help­ing us set up our New Chap­ters en­ter­prise.

“Lang­don sets con­sid­er­able store by en­cour­ag­ing its mem­bers to re­spect all Jewish hol­i­days, and would very much en­cour­age all other Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions to do the same.”

While the All Aboard shops in Gold­ers Green re­main closed on Satur­day, a sign in the East Finch­ley branch was ad­ver­tis­ing its new open­ing day.

Pre­vi­ously, in­di­vid­ual shops sorted out items do­nated by the pub­lic but now they are taken to its new ware­house in Wat­ford and then re­dis­tributed to the lo­cal branches.

Mr Brecker said the early signs of the new sys­tem were “en­cour­ag­ing” and had en­abled on­line sales to grow nine­fold.

Lionel Kopelowitz, who was pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies when it loaned the newly-formed All Aboard of­fice space, said: “It’s gen­er­ally not ac­cept­able for Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions to open on Shab­bat, I don’t ap­prove. There are six other days in the week, aren’t there?”

Sign in one of the stores

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