Amnon Goldis is a wine store owner in Ramat Gan, a city with many religious residents bordering Bnei Brak. After seeing all the LGBT flags being hung by the municipality to mark Gay Pride month, Goldis decided in response to place a sign bearing the words of Shema Yisrael on top of his wine store. Almost immediately afterwards Goldis received a call from the municipality warning him to take down his sign or pay a fine. He also received a warning letter from a municipal inspector stating the same thing.
Goldis told Bechadrei Chareidim that “this is an anti-Semitic municipality. It is unacceptable that the municipality should threaten me for placing a Jewish sign, while flags which hurt many people’s feelings are fluttering around town.”
Goldis even said he would replace the sign over his store with the Shema Yisrael sign if necessary, but the municipality said that this would require authorization by a municipal committee. “A city which takes months to solve problems suddenly needs urgently to remove a sign,” Goldis responded.
Goldis’s story made waves in the city and hundreds of residents, both religious and secular came to his store to express solidarity with him. Some even offered to pay the fine for him. Goldis has declared that he will refuse to take down the sign even if he has to pay numerous fines.
A number of residents decided to start a campaign and hang thousands of Shema Yisrael signs in a display of identity with Goldis. Pini, a resident of Ramat Gan, told Bechadrei that “the story aroused a storm among locals. We sat together and decided to start an initiative of hanging signs to identify with Goldis. Everything was done voluntarily with no profit motive. There are good people who heard about the initiative and committed to helping us. Hundreds have called asking for a sign.”
One resident even offered to print the signs for free for whoever wishes to hang a sign outside his home.
Ramat Gan mayor Carmel Shama-Cohen responded angrily to the claims stating that “yesterday a religious media outlet spread the word that in Ramat Gan there is someone who is persecuting and attempting to remove religious and faith-oriented signs. Every sign in the town must be placed in accordance with laws and regulations in a permitted place and with the permitted size and from permitted materials after paying the relevant fees.”
Goldis insists that the municipality’s motives are not pure. “The flags fluttering next to my store hurt my feelings. As a former army officer and disabled veteran, nobody will tell me what sign to hang on my private property. If I am violating the law, I’m willing to moderate the size in accordance with municipal regulations. Apparently its not the sign that interests them but it’s Jewish content.”
It should be noted that Shama-Cohen is one of the leading proponents of Shabbat public transport and was the first mayor to publicly announce alternative transport on Shabbat funded by the municipality.