The Challenges of Being a Jewish Electrician

Jewish people have a different set of culture and belief that set them apart from ordinary workers. For one, they do not celebrate the usual government and private industry recognized holidays, and that they have customs and traditions that may need to be observed even during working hours.

This in turn, may present a whole set of challenges for the Jewish worker and their respective employers. The Jewish Alliance for Women in Science for instance posted a write-up interview on a female Jewish electrician, who talked about the challenges at work that she had to face.

The Challenges of Being a Jewish Electrician
Observing Jewish Customs and Traditions in the Electrical Industry (Photo Credits)

“I had no problem being the only female in a study group or on a project team; I was always treated very respectfully by the others. In my work life- I work in a field where emergencies can crop up at any time and I need to be available. Before I took my current job I made a point of telling my manager that because I am frum (religious/orthodox) I need to leave earlier on some Fridays. I try not to take advantage of this, and I make up the time by coming in earlier than my usual start time Mon-Fri. As for yomim tovim, I am given the option to do overtime for comparable hours so that is what I usually use. If not, then I have to take off the days as vacation days. I do offer, however, to work on the days that my coworkers would usually want off, Jan 1, Dec 25 etc. When I work in the field I wear jeans with a denim skirt on top.”

Read the original interview transcript here.

Using Electricity

The Jewish Center for Public Affairs has explained various concepts on electrical use during Sabbath. The same article also discussed how this has evolved in the present context.

“A key characteristic of Shabbat and holidays is that the observant Jew forgoes the use of many objects. This behavior toward equipment leads, among other things, to a severe limitation of his mobility: he uses neither an automobile nor public transport. As early as the nineteenth century, rabbis decided that it was forbidden to use railways on Shabbat. For observant Jews, not using these means of transport means more walking on Shabbat than during the week. One might describe this as: refraining from the mechanical in favor of the natural and immediate. The same abstinence is observed in the use of many other important appliances and tools such as money, television, radios, computers, electric switches, telephones, faxes, elevators, electric doorbells, pens, purses, cash machines, copiers, compact discs, washing machines, and dryers.”

Check out the rest of the explanation here.

Electrical Appliances and Sabbath

The New York Times has published a news feature article on how businessmen try to fuse technology and the Jewish observance of Sabbath. The article focused on the technologies developed to help Jewish people who may need to work even during Sabbath.

“Zomet created the metal detectors used to screen worshippers at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in a manner that uses electricity in a way not prohibited on the Sabbath. It also developed pens that use ink that disappears after a few days, based on a rabbinic interpretation that only forbids permanent writing, and Sabbath phones, which are dialed in an indirect manner with special buttons and a microprocessor. According to Mr. Marans, the Israeli army bought 1,000 of these phones in 2007, so that Orthodox soldiers can take part in military operations on the Sabbath and holidays. Hospitals and medical personnel also use these technologies.”

The continuation of the whole article can be found here.

Being in the electrical industry may present some challenges for a Jewish electrician. Technology and keenness though allow them to still do their respective duties.


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