The Shmooze

GE Adds ‘Sabbath Mode’ to Hundreds of Appliances

By Michael Kaminer

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It’s not often a press release from a mega-corporation like GE touts gefilte fish, challah, brisket, noodle kugel and latkes. But just in time for Hanukkah, the company decided to trumpet the “Sabbath Mode” feature it now offers on over 264 “GE wall ovens, smooth-top electric slide-in and smooth-top electric drop-in ranges, as well as on the majority of its free-standing ranges.”

As the release explains, “Sabbath Mode” basically means an appliance will override the 12-hour shut-off safety device that equips “most modern ranges.” The oven “will not shut off automatically, making it possible to keep cooked foods warm on the Sabbath or use the range over religious holidays for cooking and warming food.”

“Sabbath Mode,” the press release says, “meets the certification requirements of a nationally recognized Kosher certifying agency, Star-K.” In what one would hope is an unintentional metaphor for Jewish history, GE notes “this capability can be utilized, if desired, but otherwise it stays inactive and unnoticeable to the non-Jewish consumer.”

In the release, GE also positions itself as a sort of savior of observant Jews whose culinary efforts are thwarted by pesky Sabbath regulations. “The voice of Jewish consumers led GE engineers to the development of this feature,” the release claims. “Although the Sabbath and holiday laws, especially as they relate to the cooking and heating of foods, are rather complex, the engineers at GE have appreciated and comprehended the intricacies of Halacha (Jewish law) as they developed a Sabbath mode that enhances the Sabbath and holidays of observant Jewish families.”

For all its good intentions, GE apparently ran into trouble with Star-K; in an undated posting on its site, Star-K warns consumers that some GE “Monogram” models came with a defect that required consumers to adjust the temperature manually. “Remember,” warns the Star-K site, “even in the Sabbath mode, one is never permitted to adjust the temperature on the Sabbath.” The site says that GE “has released a new control board” to fix the problem, and that the Monogram series has had its Star-K certification reinstated.


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