Orthodox Jews sue over light sensor

I actually have a few friends who observe the Sabbath, refusing to use any electronic devices, perform any kind of labor, and not even touching any money. I’ve always found their customs to be rather silly, but then again, that’s how I feel about most types of rituals. I don’t have a problem with people doing what they want, so long as they keep it to themselves.

Well, that’s not good enough for some. An Orthodox couple in the UK are suing over religious discrimination because the lights in their apartment hallway have sensors which automatically turn on whenever they detect any movement. They now say they are unable to leave their apartment as a result.

They want the lights changed and their neighbors to financially compensate them for their troubles. Obviously, people in the building are less than impressed, and I can’t blame them. The light sensors were installed to avoid wasting energy, and as an environmentally conscious person, I approve the use of such devices. The fact they make observing Sabbath a problem is not anyone’s concern but the people who hold these types of useless rituals.

I’m tired of otherwise compromising and reasonable people being sued left and right because the feelings of religious folks are being hurt. The sensors are there for people’s safety and convenience. If Mr. and Mrs. Coleman are unhappy about this type of technology, there are plenty of places in Bournemouth they can move to. Demanding others inconvenience themselves to accommodate some stupid tradition is not only ridiculous; it’s fucking insulting. No one is forcing them to live there. When will religious people stop thinking the whole world revolves around them?

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Comments (17)

  • avatar

    Andrew

    Actually I thought that as long as you don’t exert energy its ok. In NYC there are elevators that stop on every floor in high rise buildings on the Sabbath so that Orthodox Jews can get to their apartment without passing out on the stairs. Also there is a whole area of study in Israel devoted to creating ways to do things without touching anything like a button or switch so that people can still function.

  • avatar

    Jarek

    I don’t understand why they are unwilling to leave their apartment. The lights are turned on automatically, so it wouldn’t “count” as doing work. It’s not like the Sabbath means “thou shalt not have any electronic lights on at all.”

    Besides, what would they be doing leaving the apartment on the Sabbath? I thought they weren’t supposed to go anywhere or do anything anyway.

    Can someone explain the thought process here? It seems like they are just trying to be obnoxious and pushy for the sake of it.

  • avatar

    CybrgnX

    It a case of mindless morons over reaching the basics of their belief.
    Andrew is correct in that their law states that they may not do work.
    If you think (sorry forgot they are religious-thinking is difficult for them) about it if the hall light is intolerable then what about the work they are doing by breathing? Heartbeat? auto-nerve response? If they want to be that strick in their application then maybe it should be pointed out that breathy is MORE work and they should stop!!!!!

  • avatar

    Roshan

    People will sue for anything these days. And religious reasons are the most absurd!

  • avatar

    edac

    I read in the Metro (not the BEST source but an interesting point nonetheless) that the “rationale” is that it is forbidden to light a fire on the Sabbath. Fire. Electricity. Fire. Electricity. Wow. Extrapolation ftw.

  • avatar

    edac

    The “rationale” from the Metro article (not the BEST source but an interesting point nonetheless) is that it is forbidden to light a fire on the Sabbath. Fire. Electricity. Fire. Electricity. Wow. Extrapolation ftw.

  • avatar

    Lifer

    Sadly, fire is not electricity and vice versa making this whole situation all the more ridiculous.

  • avatar

    Alex

    This story is so goddamn ridiculous, I have a feeling those two Jews were actually joking. Though, a light sensor might be a great solution for obnoxious neighbours. If the happen to believe in those things. ;)

  • avatar

    Danielle

    When the Coleman’s bought the flat, it was with the explicit agreement that such sensors would not be installed. Also, they said they would install the Sabbath over-ride at their own expense, so as not to inconvenience any neighbours. It was only when the neighbours refused this offer that they felt they had no option but to take the dispute to court.

  • avatar

    Steel Phoenix

    You can try telling them that fire is a chemical reaction and electricity an electromagnetic one, but you might as well be trying to convince them that the world isn’t flat. Explaining science to those blinded with devotion is an exercise in futility.

    It is clear that they aren’t the ones being discriminated against. In order to have been discriminated against they would have had to have been treated differently than everyone else, which clearly isn’t what happened, it is what they are asking for. There is no way this holds up, unless what Danielle says is true and it was written in an agreement that everyone involved signed. I haven’t seen that elsewhere, do you have a link Danielle?

    What if I move in next door and my religion demands that I have a motion light guarding my front door at all times? You can’t please everyone. The best that can be done is to avoid giving or taking rights from any given group. If they want to take away their own options, then that is their problem.

    I’m a little shocked at how much effort they put into finding loopholes in their own rules. It’s almost like they are creating a new class of God lawyering. They aren’t allowed to ‘separate two threads’ either, but you don’t see them going around afraid to wear clothing or walk on carpet. They also aren’t allowed to transfer anything between two domains, which could be interpreted to prohibit drinking, peeing, using plumbing, or breathing, and I’m pretty sure they do at least one of those.

  • avatar

    Steel Phoenix

    Nevermind, found it in the BBC article: ‘The lessees also allege in the claim that when they purchased their flat in the spring of 2003 it was on the basis of assurances from selling agents that that movement sensors would not be installed at Embassy Court.’

    That sounds pretty informal to me, and not at all like the other tenants had signed off on it.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Look, I’m not arguing that offering to pay for a “Sabbath” override isn’t reasonable. I’m saying that it’s ridiculous; annoyingly so. Are we not forgetting the elephant in the room here? Can we not rationally examine their arguments for doing so. Let me demonstrate through a nice “re-arranging” of the story in question:

    A couple moves into the neighborhood. They are friendly, but the two are a little odd. Upon further inquiry, you discover that they believe that mighty aliens are their masters, and that they oppose using any electronic devices on a Saturday for fear that it would interfere with their possibly being teleported up to the mothership. The couple offers to pay for an electrician to alter the automatic light sensors so that they are off each Saturday.

    It kind of changes the picture a little bit, doesn’t it?

  • avatar

    Simon

    “Demanding that others inconvenience themselves…”

    Exactly how are they being inconvenienced? By asking other residents to use a light switch or push button rather than a sensor… too much to ask obviously… thin end of the wedge… can’t have that.

  • avatar

    Mel Fishman

    As a youngster brought up as an Orthodox Jew there used to be a ‘shabbos goy’. This meant you paid a non-Jew to turn on the lights for you on the Sabbath. Of course, you’re asking someone else to sin for you. I stayed at Orthodox establishments fairly recently and it was great that there was a light sensor in the bathroom when you had to get up in the middle of the night and the sensor would turn the light on for you and turn it off when you exited. I agree with some of the other comments. These people are just a pain and don’t really understand the Jewish law.
    Another silliness from my Orthodox friend the dentist. One of his patients was afraid to get a much needed filling during Possover because it might hold some ‘chometz’ (unleavened bread) and thereby break the Passover law. Man! how nuts can you get.

  • avatar

    shasta

    They are morons.
    Once I read an article, the Orthodox Jew dog owner said he has to leave his lost dog in the ” kill ” animal shelter to be killed for the dog has lived there for the allowed 7 days, because they aren’t supposed to drive on weekend.
    Morons!!!

  • avatar

    shasta

    Why do the Orthodox Jew even bother to breath?
    Don’t they know there is even elctricity in the air they breath?
    I wonder if they can walk outdoors when there is rain, storm and thunder?
    Morons.

  • avatar

    Diana

    I read this after my neighbor ask me to do the same. i live in a semi detach house and my street is pretty dark where i need my front porch light to see anything when i come home. and the funny thing is we own the house! the neighbors just rent. I mean i respect peoples religion but come on why should i risk my own life so i can accommodate yours. And the most ridiculous thing is now they want “US” to buy a partition so our light won’t hit there front door are you kidding? if i tell them they can’t have there kids lingering around my front house Im pretty sure they will have a fit!
    selfish people!

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