Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sabbath elevator

Something particularly fascinating here in Israel is the way elevators work each Sabbath (each weekend, Friday evening to Saturday evening).  If you visit Israel and stay in a hotel over the weekend, this is something you will certainly notice and wonder about.  Well, wonder no longer!

The Jews are required to abstain from operating electric switches on the Sabbath.  Since this includes elevator buttons, a special mode has been created for elevators so that Jews can continue using them even without ever touching a button.  The elevators are designed to work by opening and closing on every single floor.  This is a very time-consuming method, but the religious Jews will stand and wait until the elevator reaches their floor.  They will step on, never touch a button, and wait for the elevator to open and close its doors on every floor until it has reached their desired stop.  Then, they simply walk off.

I took the picture for this post in our very own apartment building.  The elevator on the left side is the one that is used for Sabbath.  The one on the right works normally, seven days a week.

I'll bet you are wondering how many people here actually observe this law.  Well, I think you would be surprised at this elevator's popularity.  Just put it this way... there is an elevator like this in nearly every multiple-story building in Israel!

Fascinating, isn't it?


  1. It is so funny you mention this because I was just watching a show on PBS over here in the States and the were explaining how they have a large number of Jews in the Florida area and they had to accomodate elevators in hotels for their guests. So in some areas here we also have Sabbath elevators. Very interesting.

  2. When we were in Israel last February we got on the sabbath elevator. 6 months pregnant and the 8th floor really do not mix haha. We got off rather quickly! Smart people to think of such equipment! I guess I'd rather take the elevator that stops at every floor than walk 5-8 flights of stairs all weekend!
    Have a great day, Stephanie Way 

  3. That is so interesting!!! My parents just came back from a trip to Israel...and they were telling us about the elevators on the Sabbath. Very interesting!

  4. An answer to a pilpul for Exodus 20:8.

  5. Wow! That is an incredible contraption!

  6. Wow -- that IS fascinating!!! Pretty cool I must say, but yeahhh very time consuming lol -- At least we don't have to observe that stuff! lol :D


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