It's the Shabbat phone: how to make kosher calls on a Friday
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt.
Wednesday 21 March 2012
Adapting modern technology to ancient halacha, or Jewish religious law, is a challenge that Israeli experts have long relished. But the "Shabbat phone" is in a class of its own.
Orthodox Jews do not make or receive phone calls on the Sabbath ("Shabbat" in Hebrew), as the activation of an electric appliance – so that a current is introduced to a device – violates rules against starting or completing a project on the day of rest.
This has posed a problem for key senior military officers and public servants, who are observant or modern orthodox Jews but need to be on call 24/7. The Shabbat phone, from the Zomet Institute has been dubbed kosher as the current continuously runs through it, and increases when the call is made.
Twelve Shabbat phones were ordered six months ago for religious personnel among the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aides, including the national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror. But Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, the head of Zomet, warned yesterday in the Maariv newspaper that this did not mean everyone could now enjoy social calls at weekends.
"The halachic approval was only given for essential workers and important needs like health, security, public services, water and electricity and so on," he said.
The Shabbat phone is kosher, but also slow. A conversation cannot take place until 20 minutes after dialling. Technicians claim they have a new version which cuts this to 10 seconds.
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...