'Shabbat Standards' bill pushes forward

The bill calls for the IEC and private electricity companies to automate power production on Shabbat and to hire non-Jewish workers to man Shabbat shifts.

In an effort to satisfy the needs of the country's haredi population, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Religious Affairs Minister Yitzhak Cohen said that within the next month they will present their "Shabbat Standards" bill to a ministerial commission for investigation. The bill calls for the Israel Electric Corporation and private electricity companies to automate power production on Shabbat and to hire non-Jewish workers to man Shabbat shifts. The bill comes in the wake of reports received by the Infrastructures Ministry that increasing numbers of haredim are using small generators to provide power for their homes on Shabbat, refusing to run electricity provided by the IEC, claiming that doing do so requires Jewish IEC workers to be in violation of Shabbat. "It is clear that many people are endangering themselves by using these generators on Shabbat and holidays," Ben-Eliezer said. "Therefore, it is in our best interest to complete the Shabbat Standards bill as quickly as possible." In September, the Infrastructures Ministry claimed that local haredi rabbis have advised their congregations that they are forbidden to use IEC provided power on Jewish holidays where work is prohibited, telling them to purchase generators instead. The generators, said Ben-Eliezer, are not only safety violations, but represent non-governmental approved sources to provide their homes with power, making them illegal, as well. Separately, on Tuesday, the Manufacturers' Association of Israel and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry held a special trade-show that focused on innovative products developed by the Institute for Science and Halacha (Jewish law) and some 20 other companies which target the needs of haredi consumers. Included among the products on display were hospital call systems, Shabbat alarm systems, Shabbat clocks, Shabbat refrigerators and Shabbat ovens.