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Old October 10th, 2009, 02:42 PM   #1
dnobsemajdnob
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Kosher Elevators: Only in NY!

Because NY is so Jewish, it is the only city outside of Israel in which this could occur.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/10/ny...l?ref=nyregion

Another Landlord Worry: Is the Elevator Kosher?

Librado Romero/The New York Times
An elevator rider at Cooperative Village in Manhattan.
But last week, newly added to the tenant issues facing building managers like Harold M. Jacob, who runs a co-op on the Lower East Side where Orthodox Jews inhabit a substantial portion of the 2,500 apartments, was this almost ontological question:

Does that elevator “know” how many people are on it?

The question is at the core of a ruling issued by a group of prominent rabbis in Israel on Sept. 29 that seems to ban the use of many so-called Shabbos elevators: elevators fixed to stop on every floor from Friday evening until Saturday evening so that observant Jews do not have to press any buttons.

Since the 1960s, when high-rise apartment buildings became ubiquitous, the Orthodox rabbinate has made such elevators one of the few exceptions to Talmudic rules prohibiting 39 categories of activity on the Sabbath, including manual labor or the use of electrical devices. Like flipping a light switch, pressing an elevator button is considered the use of an electrical device.

“Are you sure that’s what it said?” Mr. Jacob asked a person on the other end of the phone line the other day, sitting at his cluttered desk in the management office of Cooperative Village, the co-op he is in charge of. “It can’t be used?”

He paused to listen.

“It can be used?” he asked.

While the other party continued talking, Mr. Jacob addressed a reporter. “This has been causing a certain amount of agita around here for the last few days,” he said. “I have to say, it is very interesting.”

Though many observant Jews have always considered Shabbos elevators illegitimate, a vast majority of them, especially the elderly or infirm, and large Orthodox families living with small children on upper floors of high-rise buildings, have used the elevators since about 1964, when prominent rabbinical scholars reached a consensus published in religious journals, according to Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the dean of the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future. Such elevators are common in residential buildings, hospitals and hotels worldwide, he said.

But the recent ruling, whose signers included Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv — at 99, widely considered the most influential Torah sage of his generation — introduced a caveat based on new technology in elevators. The rabbis wrote that this new technology, which was explained to them by elevator technicians and engineers in “a written and oral technical opinion,” made them aware for the first time that using Shabbos elevators may be a “desecration of the Sabbath.”

They did not name the offending technology. But for several years there has been debate among Orthodox rabbis in Israel over whether devices that measure the weight in an elevator car, and adjust power accordingly, effectively make entering a car the equivalent of pressing a button.

“What disturbs me about this is how ambiguous this ruling is,” Rabbi Brander said. “Normally, in an opinion of this kind, all the possible implications of a decision are weighed and discussed. This has none of that.”

The decision has been big news in Israel, where the Knesset passed a law eight years ago requiring all buildings with more than one elevator to designate one a Shabbos elevator.

On the Lower East Side, and in Orthodox enclaves in Brooklyn, where the decision has been more like a rumor than a ruling, observant Jews on the street wearing skullcaps or wide-brimmed black hats said they were puzzled by it, although some had not heard about it.

At the very least, said a man in a long black coat, pushing a stroller on New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn, with three other small children in tow, “it’s not another water situation.” He referred to the commotion in 2004 when some Orthodox rabbis in Brooklyn ordered people not to drink New York City tap water after learning it contained tiny harmless organisms called copepods, which are crustaceans, not considered kosher. Yeshivas, kosher restaurants and thousands of people bought water filters.

At Cooperative Village, each building has two elevators, one of them programmed for Shabbos. “Basically, we have not seen any change in behavior among the people here who use the Shabbos elevator,” Mr. Jacob said.

For some, the ambiguity of the decision left the deepest impression. “Look,” said Jacob Goldman, 38, walking on Friday morning on Grand Street. “Just because there is one opinion doesn’t mean that it is everyone’s opinion. One of the wonderful things about Judaism is that there are competing opinions about everything.”

Most Jews would take the word of their own rabbi over any rabbinical ruling issued 6,000 miles away, he said.

For Mr. Jacob, the question seemed to require a more definitive answer.

“What I am told,” he said on Friday, “is that the decision was retracted.”

Really?

“Or it may be about to be retracted,” he said. “It was a really confusing opinion.”
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Old October 10th, 2009, 07:30 PM   #2
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Religions are so funny!
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Old October 10th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #3
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The Hyatt hotel in Acapulco also has a lift like that
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Old October 11th, 2009, 07:37 AM   #4
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I thought Religion, in large part, was to help people deal with the incomprehensible... not the idiotic.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 07:48 AM   #5
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Toronto has those at Mount Sinai Hospital and I assume they're in buildings in the more Jewish neighbourhoods.

the thing i don't get is why it's ok to get someone else to press the button or flick the switch or whatever. you're still making it happen.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 08:18 AM   #6
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It is strange! Surely it is the act of using the elevator that is at question, and pretty much against the rules.. surely the flicking of a switch is secondary. I guess in every religion the rules get massaged and changed to meet personal ease.
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Old October 11th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #7
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Hiking up 40 flights of stairs is not work, but lifting a finger to push a button is?
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Old October 12th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taller, Better View Post
It is strange! Surely it is the act of using the elevator that is at question, and pretty much against the rules.. surely the flicking of a switch is secondary. I guess in every religion the rules get massaged and changed to meet personal ease.
Quite true, there is a recent similar type of case in Brighton in the UK, where a Jewish couple have complained about automatic motion detectors recently installed that switch on the lights in their apartment complex's hallways. They claim they can not enter or leave the apartment during the sabbath as their very walking down the exterior hallway triggers the lights which is "igniting a flame". They are demanding that the motion detectors are removed. The interesting part of this is that none of the other 34 or so apartment tennants are Jewish, and the Jewish couple don't actually live there as it is just their second home for once a month.

Personally, I feel in this case that the majority should dictate the outcome.

As for the Lift situation. Well, this one just bends my mind too much. Thank god I'm an athiest (excuse the pun)
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Old October 12th, 2009, 09:27 PM   #9
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I once knew a room service attendant in a hotel who took a meal up to a man. The man said he was Orthodox, and could not use a pen on the Sabbath to sign the bill. The next day when he checked out of the hotel, he refused to pay the bill, saying he had had no room service delivered. As they had no signed bill, they were forced to take his meal off the bill. Sneaky move!
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Old October 14th, 2009, 10:57 AM   #10
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haha the stereotypical image in my head is being conjured up as we speak!
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Old October 14th, 2009, 08:56 PM   #11
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I'm sorry but it's stupid and ridiculous.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 03:45 AM   #12
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There are people starving in the world and the Jews want kosher elevators so they don't have to press a button on Saturday. How sick is that.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 04:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taller, Better View Post
It is strange! Surely it is the act of using the elevator that is at question, and pretty much against the rules.. surely the flicking of a switch is secondary. I guess in every religion the rules get massaged and changed to meet personal ease.
SINNER!
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Old October 16th, 2009, 09:18 PM   #14
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There are people starving in the world and the Jews want kosher elevators so they don't have to press a button on Saturday. How sick is that.
you can say that about anything people spend money on. the Vatican could have a yard sale and use the money to feed starving people too.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #15
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everyone should keep in mind that every religion has elements that seem ridiculous.

Evangelicals spend hard-earned money getting demons excorcised out of them.

HIV rates are out of control in many countries and the Catholic church is saying condoms are bad.

this list could go on and on.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 11:46 PM   #16
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you can say that about anything people spend money on. the Vatican could have a yard sale and use the money to feed starving people too.
You seem to have a particular problem with the Catholic Church. In reality, I have never seen an Anglican, Presbyterian or Luthern Church or a Synaogue that occupied modest rented space. All religions should sell their properties and use the funds for good works, but this is especially true for Jews who should pay reparations to the Palestenians for the war crimes that they committed against the Arabs.

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Old October 17th, 2009, 07:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnobsemajdnob View Post
You seem to have a particular problem with the Catholic Church. In reality, I have never seen an Anglican, Presbyterian or Luthern Church or a Synaogue that occupied modest rented space. All religions should sell their properties and use the funds for good works, but this is especially true for Jews who should pay reparations to the Palestenians for the war crimes that they committed against the Arabs.

i don't know what makes you think that. i just happened to use an example from the Catholic Church but could have used an example from any number of religious organizations.

you seem to have a particular problem with Jews since you think they owe more than anyone else. the Catholic Church has comitted some equally horrible crimes. the fact that you posted a picture from Shakespeare's most anti-semitic play says a lot about where you're coming from.

anyway, i can see where this is going, so i'll stop now and just say that i don't have a problem with any religion as long as it's not used to discriminate, ostracise, alienate, or promote conflict. a person's religious beliefs are a personal choice and should not be forced upon anyone or used to exclude anyone.
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Old October 17th, 2009, 10:40 PM   #18
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.... i'll stop now and just say that i don't have a problem with any religion as long as it's not used to discriminate, ostracise, alienate, or promote conflict....
Like the Jews did in the Gaza genocide that they perpetrated last winter? Now, they demand that the Goldstone Report, which documents their war crimes, be supressed. Furthermore, the Jews' refusal to proceed with final status peace talks resulting in a Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders and a capital in East Jerusalem could not be clearer. Lastly, the Jews should be embarrassed to have a foreign minister like Lieberman who is a hateful racist and is worse than Jaider was.
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Old October 20th, 2009, 06:11 PM   #19
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I knew this one was headed for an early end.
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