Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NYTimes looks at Shabbos Elevators

From sundown on Friday until the sun sets on Saturday, many observant Jews refrain from certain activities, including pushing elevator buttons, following a restriction that comes from a prohibition against creating sparks and fires. So in some buildings, elevators are programmed to stop automatically on every floor during the Sabbath. That way, observant Jews can hop right in and, eventually, get where they are going. 

These systems, long a fixture in hospitals as well, can be lifesavers for older people and those with disabilities, and they allow the observant to live on floors that are too high to hoof it. But they also slow down elevator traffic. A lot. [...]

More reliably, said Rabbi Weinstock, an associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, many doormen know where the observant people live and will push the appropriate button for them. But it is not acceptable, he said, to walk up to the doormen on a Saturday morning and ask them to do so. (Some rabbis also do not consider Shabbos elevators to be acceptable .

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