Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

The Clapper Not Kosher? Call a Shabbos Goy.

by Staff

Tags: Shabbos, Goy, Judaism, interfaith cooperation,

The idea of not working on Shabbos puzzles many non-Jews. No work means no flipping light switches, no pushing elevator buttons, no warming up food. Do the devout sit at home in the dark, hungry and unmoving, for the entire day? Nah, reports the irreverent Jewish magazine Heeb, thanks in part to interfaith friendships with "Shabbos goys." By Heeb’s account, when the temperature dips in a Brandeis dorm room, Sarah Black adjusts the thermostat. When the light goes off in the bathroom at Temple Beth Ahm in New Jersey, Bill Webber uses his gentile fingers to flip it back on.

For many Jews, such partnerships are nothing new. Shabbos goys used to be paid positions, but now the favors are often just between friends. Jews get heat and light without breaking work prohibitions, and gentiles like Webber and Black get to help out their Jewish brethren. Heartwarming, or at least house-warming.

Lisa Gulya