Keeping It Kosher: Shabbat Compliant Devices

Keeping It Kosher: Shabbat Compliant Devices

Jeff Heaton
Aug 11, 2011

As technology evolves it ideally becomes quicker, more efficient and more useful, but rarely does it respect other convictions. When we get something out of fridge we don't usually think it might offend our religious beliefs. But for Shabbat-observant Jews the simple act of turning on the oven on Shabbat is prohibited. To solve this problem many home appliance manufacturers have created what is know as Sabbath mode.

There are 39 activities prohibited on the Shabbat, when observant Jews aren't allowed to do creative work. This can be interpreted to include making a fire, preparing food or even pressing an electronic button. In the past the problem could be solved by lighting the stove or oven before the day began and leaving it on for use when needed. But modern ovens automatically shut off after a number of hours for safety reasons. Shabbat mode overrides this timer and turns off all lights and displays, like the little bulb that clicks on when you open your fridge.

Shabbat mode also enables following of specific rules on different holidays. For example, some ovens allow for a change in temperature without feedback to the operator — useful when changes in heat are allowed but use of a digital readout is not.

Closely related to Shabbat mode are Sabbath compliant devices. These provide almost all the same functions of Sabbath mode, including a disabled timer, but also have varying degrees of Sabbath adherence. Some give a readout of temperature and others include indicator lights so it is important to read the specifications provided by the Star-K standard.

A variety of brand name manufacturers offer this feature, from AGA to Wolf. A list of Star-K certified Sabbath mode appliances and more intricate details in the use of the feature can be had on Star-K's website.

Seeing our devices serve us with more depth and understanding of our beliefs has us thinking about our appliances in a new context. How would you like to see adherence to your philosophy and beliefs in your gadgets?

Read more: Star-K certification and certified appliances at Star-K.org and details about creating a kosher kitchen over at our sister site, The Kitchn.

(Image: bengt-re licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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