How to Observe Shabbat in a Massive Snowstorm

IEC releases guidelines on how to cook and stay warm for Shabbat while avoiding malfunctions and electric fires.

Nir Har-Zahav, Ari Yashar,

Jerusalem in snow
Jerusalem in snow
Mendy Hechtman/Flash 90

Israel is taking the brunt of a massive snowstorm that is expected to see snow reach as far as the northern Negev desert on Friday - what does that mean in terms of preparing for Shabbat, when Jews are not to perform certain types of labor such as turning on electricity?

Several guidelines on the issue and overall storm safety were announced, as the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) decided on Friday morning to continue operating under its emergency framework, in a discussion attended by Infrastructures Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud), IEC director Gen. (res.) Yiftah Ron-Tal and IEC CEO Eli Glikman.

The situation rooms of the IEC are to remain open throughout the weekend, with reinforced crews remaining ready to tackle potentially dangerous power outages and electrical malfunctions caused by the extreme winds and snow. The 103 service phone number to monitor the situation will likewise remain operational.

IEC has called on the public to be aware of broken power lines and to report damage and malfunctions through the 103 station, as well as the company's website, Facebook page and cellphone application.

Regarding Shabbat, the company recommended that on Friday before Shabbat begins residents should try to run large household appliances such as washing machines and ovens as early as possible, so as to minimize the load right before Shabbat.

During the course of Shabbat leaving many appliances such as heaters running should be avoided as much as possible, so as not to put undue load on the electrical supply and possibly cause a short.

IEC also issued several general safety guidelines, warning not to dry laundered clothes by hanging them over heaters and radiators due to the danger of fire. They also warned not to put machines that give off heat on top of covers or other flammable materials. 

Electrical heating blankets are not to be left on overnight, and faulty or damaged appliances are not to be used, the company reminded.

Due to the stormy weather and high usage of electricity, IEC teams are on special alert with heightened numbers of workers on the ground throughout the country to give an immediate response.

The company is working to reach understandings with residents in the hareidi neighborhoods to allow workers to enter and perform work if needed during Shabbat, given that the lack of electricity can be life threatening, a circumstance that overrides Shabbat observance according to Jewish law.




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