Today’s lesson in religion comes from Broward County, Florida, where the board of a four-story
condominium building is about to spend $11,000 to make the elevator automatically stop at all floors on the Jewish Sabbath — Friday evening to Saturday evening — so that the condo owners, most of whom are Orthodox Jews, don’t have to push any buttons.
But two of the owners, who are also Jewish, are angry their money will be used for a religious accommodation.
"I respect their desires, but why does the building have to pay for
this?" asked snowbird Nicki Goldstein, 69, from her New York City home.
By law, however, everyone who buys in a condo community agrees to
submit to the will of the majority. About 85 percent of the owners are
Orthodox. On the Sabbath, they are not allowed to do anything that
would create energy, such as drive a car, turn on a light or push an
elevator button. [Link]
They’re not allowed to push an elevator button on the Sabbath (or Shabbat), but apparently it’s okay to ride the elevator. What they need is one of those voice-operated, talking elevators.
Resident: "Fourth floor, please."
Elevator: "Shabbat Shalom!"
Resident: "Shabbat Shalom to you too. Now get moving. I don’t have all day."
Elevator (muttering to itself): "Oy vey! I can’t stand some of these residents. They really know how to push my buttons."
Wikipedia has an entry on the "39 categories of activity prohibited on
Shabbat," a list from the ancient Talmud that includes planting, plowing and reaping. I don’t
see anything related to using elevators, but "transferring between domains" is definitely prohibited, which means, of course, that Orthodox Jews have to stay off the Internet.