Zomet Experience - A Disneyland for Shabbat Electronics

August 11, 2015

Source: Times of Israel 


There is a special type of Jewish nerd who looks at electronic devices approved for Shabbat and thinks, gosh, I really wish I knew how the electronic circuit inside this works so that the rabbis were able to approve its use on Shabbat. Luckily, that nerd now has a place to visit, in Alon Shvut at the Zomet Institute’s Zomet Experience visitors' center. Zomet created a hands-on science center for children and adults to understand the engineering behind things like metal detectors, voice amplification systems, oxygen tanks, keyboards, lights, hospital food heating trays, and electric wheelchairs that are kosher for use on Shabbat.


More than 30,000 people have dropped by the visitors center since it opened in December 2013. Two weeks ago, the center completed translating all of its exhibit explanations and videos into English. The institute calls the Zomet Experience a “techno-halachic journey.”


Zomet gadgets, including Shabbat-approved computer keyboards, phones, pens, chairlifts, elevators, microwaves, and other objects, are popular in army bases and hospitals, where the activities are considered essential for protecting human lives. They are also used in agricultural settings like dairies, since cows must be milked daily including Shabbat, and in hotels.


Zomet’s rabbis and engineers use the halachic concept of gramma which means that in certain cases, prohibited actions on Shabbat like using electricity can be permissible if they are performed by “indirect causation.”


Many of Zomet’s devices help people with mobility disabilities or illnesses. One 9-year-old who used an electric wheelchair told Marans that as soon as her mother lit the Shabbat candles, she felt like a rock. A Zomet-adapted wheelchair kosher for Shabbat use enabled her to gain mobility on Jewish rest days.


The visitors center has hosted Birthright groups, Jewish groups from a variety of different non-Orthodox streams from around the world, and even an Iranian TV program.


Read the entire article at the Times of Israel.

Updated: Aug. 19, 2015