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

shira cohen_2
4/26/2008 2:04:02 AM

Indeed, orthodox Jews proscribe endless don'ts, then devote untold amounts of energy to circumscribe them. Witness: Shabbat elevators that stop automatically on alternate floors, coffee makers that deliver hot java all Shabbat long, "passing" fire (using one lit candle to light another that will allow "kosher" light and cooking powers), even enclosing towns in strings to allow carrying objects within. Gets hot and crazy...


shira cohen_1
4/26/2008 1:56:28 AM

Indeed, orthodox Jews proscribe endless don'ts, then devote untold amounts of energy to circumscribe them. Witness: Shabbat elevators that stop automatically on alternate floors, coffee makers that deliver hot java all Shabbat long, "passing" fire (using one lit candle to light another that will allow "kosher" light and cooking powers), even enclosing towns in strings to allow carrying objects within. Gets hot and crazy...


pilar saavedra-vela
3/24/2008 1:58:15 AM

I agree with Rhea. That Shabbat should be so strict as to lead people to ridiculous acrobatics so they can go on with their life style is telling of the relevance of some religious practices. If the religious meant to be totally withdrawn in order to gain spiritual growth and well-being, the Shabbos goy would be invited to enjoy the meditative atmosphere and get the same benefits.


rhea_9
3/22/2008 6:39:01 AM

this is a good thing? if this shabbos thing is too hard to follow, perhaps you're not serious enough in my understanding, the shabbos was supposed to be a day of rest and spiritual renewal, which is something that can be done in the dark with a few layers of warm clothing the shabbos goys are a cop-out and a bit hypocritical - if you don't want to keep shabbos, or not keep it in that strict manner - then don't that God of yours is not gonna care who switched on the light the fact is that sometimes the letter of the law negates the spirit