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West Hartford, CT - Doctor Challenges GE On Sabbath Mode Oven

Published on: May 29, 2012 05:02 PM
By: Read more at Courant.com
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West Hartford, CT - A two-year-old gas oven sits, like new, in the kitchen of a residence retired pediatrician and neonatologist Robert Harris of West Hartford uses only on Friday nights and Saturdays for the Jewish Sabbath.

It’s not the oven he thought he was getting, nor is it one he wants.

Harris, who paid close to $600 for the oven, felt betrayed by General Electric for telling him the oven’s Sabbath mode complied with the needs of Jews observing the weekly Sabbath. Harris, like other observant Jews, does not start or stop any electrical device, whether a computer, phone or oven, on the Sabbath

Harris also cannot cook food on the Sabbath. He is allowed only to reheat previously cooked food without starting or stopping an electrical circuit. An oven with a Sabbath mode bypasses the automatic 12-hour shut-off circuitry built into modern ovens for safety. He also assumed the Sabbath-compliant oven he bought had a time-bake feature that could be set before the weekend Sabbath to turn on automatically to reheat the pre-cooked food.

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“That assumption,” he says, “ultimately proved wrong.”

As Harris understood it, this was not a proper Sabbath mode.

Why did the oven’s manual include instructions for the Sabbath mode? And how was the oven approved by Star-K, a kosher certification agency?

“We believe we comply with what the Sabbath mode should accomplish,” says GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman. “It may not meet his particular needs, but as long as we comply with what Star-K recommends we have done our job.”

A basic Sabbath-mode oven, certified by Star-K, bypasses the automatic 12-hour shut-off system to allow Jewish owners to use the stove continuously on holidays for two or three days. Harris’ oven did not have a time-bake feature that would turn on automatically and reheat his food on the weekend Sabbath.


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Read Comments (41)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 29, 2012 at 05:09 PM shredready Says:

no case, he is asking for something very particular and should have checked if it had that particular feature.

It has a Sabbath mode just not what he wants

2

 May 29, 2012 at 05:11 PM Babishka Says:

The "Sabbath mode" is actually an override that allows the oven to stay on for more than 12 hours. On a normal Shabbos I use the "Cook & Hold" feature.

3

 May 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM Anonymous Says:

This guy Harris sounds like a complete dunce. Its not up to GE to paskin on what is or is not shabbos compliant. He should sue the Star-K for incompetence but leave GE out of it.

4

 May 29, 2012 at 05:17 PM Anonymous Says:

I have a regular oven and I was concerned about the oven shutting off so all you have to do is call the company and they can walk or talk you through how to shut off that mode! No $600 needed or any hashgacha needed! This doesn't take to much brains! For a doctor to complain about this is outstanding. Just follow the detailed instructions in the booklet or call customer service why would anyone spend $600 for a Shabbos oven is beyond me! If anyone wants to pay me $600 to call customer service for them and have it shut off let me know! The only time it doesn't work is if the electric goes out and it needs to be reprogrammed!

5

 May 29, 2012 at 05:21 PM thunder2020 Says:

Sounds like his beef is really with Heinemann, not GE.

7

 May 29, 2012 at 05:33 PM The_Truth Says:

As always, read the small print before you buy!
I don't see how what he assumed was a Shabbos mode feature can anyway be a liability to GE or the Star-K.

8

 May 29, 2012 at 05:35 PM bigwheeel Says:

I couldn't agree more with Dr. Harris. The way the Sabbath mode is set up presently in the ovens manufactured by GE, may be compliant from an Halachic standpoint but it doesn't serve the needs of the consumers who purchased the appliance in the first place.
GE does have the Sabbath Mode on other appliance it manufactures. For example, some of the freezers and refrigerators that they produce, are designed with a SM that bypasses the switch which turns on the lights and fans. But a gas range and oven have different needs that could be very easily accommodated.

9

 May 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM Anonymous Says:

I'm really confused. I have a GE Shabbos mode oven, as do most of my friends, & we don't have a problem. What's Dr. Harris's???

10

 May 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM victorg Says:

This guy is going to ruin it for everybody! The Shabbat mode is invaluable for keeping modern ovens ignited. He should have read the documentation to confirm his assumptions before buying

11

 May 29, 2012 at 06:27 PM DovidT Says:

Am I missing something?
Isn't there a problem to time something to reheat on shabbos? I know in my house if we wanted to reheat kugel from the fridge we would only put it on top (not inside) of a pot that was still on the blech.

12

 May 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM curious Says:

He should yell at stark

13

 May 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM Rachel W. Says:

He should have done more extensive research. But if he has no use for his new stove / oven, he can send it my way.

14

 May 29, 2012 at 07:04 PM nyker Says:

Good luck. It will cost you more money fighting a corp with unlimited funds than the 600 oven. Secondy it sounds more like buyers remorse because he didn't do the research into what options that particular units provides.

15

 May 29, 2012 at 07:25 PM OberBoberGrober Says:

I understand where he comes from, because for an oven to bypass the auto-shut off feature does not require star-k certification, so he assumed it's more than that.

16

 May 29, 2012 at 07:30 PM Dov77 Says:

What Harris wants is not allowed according to Halacha

17

 May 29, 2012 at 07:32 PM FarRockDude Says:

What's his problem? The oven can't be set to turn on at a later time when in the Shabbos mode? For this he complains to his local paper, and might create a Chillul Hashem if the larger media pick up the story? PLEASE! I use the GE oven and most frum people I know use it, and B"H it works fine. Be thankful GE makes such appliances. I'm not a big fan of GE ( big Obama supporter) but give credit where credit is due. The Shabbos mode ovens are probably a tiny percentage of ovens sold by GE in the U.S.. Think about this Dr. Harris.......what's the alternative?

18

 May 29, 2012 at 07:33 PM Normal Says:

From Wiki "Sabbath Mode."

Oven

While raw food may not be cooked on the Shabbat, food that was already cooked beforehand may be kept warm until mealtime. On some holidays, food may be cooked fresh, but turning the heat on is prohibited. In the past, the problem could be solved simply by lighting a stove or oven before the day began, and using its heat over the course of the day. In recent decades, however, appliance manufacturers have instituted a safety feature that automatically shuts off the heat after a number of hours. This renders the appliance useless for those who observe these religious laws.

When an oven is in Shabbat mode, the standard six- or twelve-hour automatic shutoff is overridden, and all lights and displays (for example, a light that might go on when the door is opened) are disabled.

In more recently designed ovens, Shabbat mode will often feature the ability to adjust the temperature of the oven without any feedback to the operator of the oven. This is not relevant to the Shabbat, but is useful on some holidays, when adjusting the heat is allowed, but changing a digital readout on the control panel is not, according to the prevailing Orthodox opinion and the

19

 May 29, 2012 at 07:33 PM Normal Says:

Part 2 from WIki "Sabbath Mode"

minority Conservative view.

With some Shabbat mode ovens that are controlled using a keypad to set the temperature, there is a random delay triggered after a button is pressed before the temperature change takes place.

In June 2008, a number of prominent poskim signed a public pronouncement (Kol Koreh) stating that it was unequivocally forbidden to raise or lower the temperature by reprogramming on Yom Tov using the Star-K approved Shabbat Mode feature.[1] The pronouncement referred to the long-held lenient opinion of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann[2] as a minority opinion that should not be relied upon (Daas Yachid).[3] However, it has been pointed out that Rabbi Heinemann's opinion is fully consistent with the rulings of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.

21

 May 29, 2012 at 07:45 PM hey_you_never_know Says:

Please anyone here, enlighten me!!! I have no idea what I just read...the owner complained what?

22

 May 29, 2012 at 08:10 PM Voice-of-Reason Says:

He is going to ruin it for all of us. GE is kind enough to offer different Shabbos options for the observent Jew. He should have done his research better and inquired by a heimishe dealer to ensure that he got what he wanted. I hope GE won't stop making Shabbos appliances now.

23

 May 29, 2012 at 09:13 PM Aron1 Says:

Dr. Harris: CAVEAT EMPTOR! And the internet makes that very easy. You could have downloaded the manual free of charge and read EXACTLY what the oven can and can not do, will and will not do. And he could posed his question to many "ask the rabbi" websites regarding setting his oven on a timer mode is permissible and he would have found out that that is not halachically permitted. So, in essence, the GE oven DOES have a Shabbos mode; he just expected it to have a SHABBOS GOY MODE!

24

 May 29, 2012 at 09:16 PM Jay Says:

I am oven expert the shobbos mode are really not kosher by 99 percent of our rabbis we all know it.
And in Israel there they got the real kosher shobbos mode that our rabbis are dreaming that the USA brands should copy them

26

 May 29, 2012 at 09:56 PM cook Says:

Reply to #24  
Jay Says:

I am oven expert the shobbos mode are really not kosher by 99 percent of our rabbis we all know it.
And in Israel there they got the real kosher shobbos mode that our rabbis are dreaming that the USA brands should copy them

What is the difference between the Israeli 'real' Shabbos mode and the American version?

27

 May 29, 2012 at 11:07 PM rationalsavta Says:

I have the same problem with my GE"Sabbath mode" Oven that was purchased 6 years ago.I bought it at The Buzz & was assured that it is indeed a Sabbath mode. It Is Not, & I can't use it on yontif since there are no digital numbers, one cannot tell what the temperature of the oven is.
The model # is JGBP28BEK3ct. The serial # is DL218 189 P.

Is there anyone else who owns this oven? Have you found a way to use it on yontif???

28

 May 29, 2012 at 11:33 PM oven1 Says:

The Sabbath and Holiday mode approved by the Star-K is not acceptable and I will not go into detail right now as of why. This is a known fact by all respected Rabbanim and heimishe appliance dealers. There are currently reliable and halachically sound solutions worldwide, but since the public doesn’t know about it or is not interested in it, the companies don’t either find an interest in adjusting their current faulty Sabbath modes. (I know this from very close experiences in this field.) Hence and therefore, not the company (in this case GE) is at fault. If the respected Dr. Harris concerned about the religious factors of this episode he should try to convince the company to accept the stringencies of the other halachic institutions. I can help you with that.

29

 May 29, 2012 at 11:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Unfortunately, this guy is an Am Ha'aretz.

GE could have done exactly what he is asking but the Star K would not have approved it - why?

Because you can't put something into an oven on Shabbos.

You can use a stove top with a blech.

You can use a shabbat hot plate.

You can use a warming drawer.

But you can not put something into an oven on Shabbos.

A brief look at the Shulchan Orech or Shmiras Shabbos K'Hilchosa would answer his questions.

30

 May 29, 2012 at 11:50 PM shredready Says:

Reply to #10  
victorg Says:

This guy is going to ruin it for everybody! The Shabbat mode is invaluable for keeping modern ovens ignited. He should have read the documentation to confirm his assumptions before buying

yep they might say we do not need this headache, hopefully they will see it what it is,a lone nut

31

 May 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM shredready Says:

"We do not guarantee that an appliance will have a time-bake feature," says Rivka Lea Goldman, the appliance liaison for Star-K. "I was trying to explain that to the doctor. He felt he was misled. I tried to explain that the words 'Sabbath mode' are perhaps misleading. Our organization did not pick that terminology. Sabbath mode is really for Jewish holidays. But the manufacturers are obviously printing manuals for thousands of consumers, not just Jewish."

Because Harris assumed he was getting an all-purpose Sabbath mode oven, he did not notice the qualifications on the Star-K website. (For a list of appliances certified by Star-K, visit cour.at/JEq665.)

"Who is the culprit here?" says Harris. "I think there is plenty of blame to go around. Star-K erroneously allowed GE to claim this range as having the full Sabbath mode, which is a misnomer. Star-K does admit this but told me I should have check with them or their website. I do have some limited culpability in not doing so. At the end of the day, I understand what went wrong."

With this oven, Harris can either allow it to remain unused or override the automatic shutoff and keep it running — a potential safety risk — for the 24-

32

 May 30, 2012 at 12:06 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

This guy Harris sounds like a complete dunce. Its not up to GE to paskin on what is or is not shabbos compliant. He should sue the Star-K for incompetence but leave GE out of it.

What I don't understand is why you have to resort to calling another Yid insulting names. Someone should paskin on your lack of ehrlichgeit

33

 May 30, 2012 at 12:31 AM jewishcat Says:

I am happy to know that this 'doctor' is retired. I feel sorry for the stove that is being disobedient.

34

 May 30, 2012 at 02:08 AM zippobel1 Says:

Reply to #27  
rationalsavta Says:

I have the same problem with my GE"Sabbath mode" Oven that was purchased 6 years ago.I bought it at The Buzz & was assured that it is indeed a Sabbath mode. It Is Not, & I can't use it on yontif since there are no digital numbers, one cannot tell what the temperature of the oven is.
The model # is JGBP28BEK3ct. The serial # is DL218 189 P.

Is there anyone else who owns this oven? Have you found a way to use it on yontif???

I went to my local hardware store and bought an inexpensive temperature gauge that hangs inside the oven. That way I can monitor the temperature on Yom Tov.

35

 May 30, 2012 at 02:31 AM oven1 Says:

Star k appliance for shobbos is not kosher for most of us ask your ruv and he will explain

36

 May 30, 2012 at 04:19 AM formercrownheightser Says:

For what it's worth, my Rav said it's not permissible to change the temp on yom tov. Just because you can't see the numbers on the panel doesn't mean it's allowed. Additionally, who said you can put things into an oven on Shabbos? That's cooking, even if the oven was on from before. And on Shabbos, when we remove things from the oven, we have to remove them all at one time. Besides, when it's not Shabbos,i leave the oven on for more than 12 hours at a time, sometimes on purpose, like leaving a roast on 200 degrees overnite, or i just forget to shut it. And the oven stays on. I don't think the Sabbath mode is made to override the 12 hours, rather to keep the oven on without the oven operator seeing the numbers and any light going on. All in all, i think Sabbath mode is really Yom Tov mode.The oven stays on and the temp remains constant, because we're ALLOWED to cook on Yom Tov. Therein lies the difference.

37

 May 30, 2012 at 05:12 AM BaruchGershom Says:

I bought a Kitchenaid oven with Star-K approved Sabbath mode, but Star-K withdrew their certification AFTER I bought it! Neither Kitchenaid nor Star-K was willing to help me.

38

 May 30, 2012 at 07:40 AM Trolly_McTrollerston Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

I have a regular oven and I was concerned about the oven shutting off so all you have to do is call the company and they can walk or talk you through how to shut off that mode! No $600 needed or any hashgacha needed! This doesn't take to much brains! For a doctor to complain about this is outstanding. Just follow the detailed instructions in the booklet or call customer service why would anyone spend $600 for a Shabbos oven is beyond me! If anyone wants to pay me $600 to call customer service for them and have it shut off let me know! The only time it doesn't work is if the electric goes out and it needs to be reprogrammed!

then you don't have a regular oven. Most cannot be bypassed.

39

 May 30, 2012 at 08:50 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
Aron1 Says:

Dr. Harris: CAVEAT EMPTOR! And the internet makes that very easy. You could have downloaded the manual free of charge and read EXACTLY what the oven can and can not do, will and will not do. And he could posed his question to many "ask the rabbi" websites regarding setting his oven on a timer mode is permissible and he would have found out that that is not halachically permitted. So, in essence, the GE oven DOES have a Shabbos mode; he just expected it to have a SHABBOS GOY MODE!

Agreed. Before buying ANY device, a person should research exactly when the device can and cannot do. He should have questioned what "Sabbath Mode" means, BEFORE buying the oven.

40

 May 30, 2012 at 08:57 AM Normal Says:

I bought a motzoi shabbos/yom tov oven but the oven refused to clean the table or wash the dishes.

42

 May 30, 2012 at 10:42 AM touchpad vs. knob Says:

I am using this blog as a sounding board for my peeves. I used to have an older oven (happened to be GE) which I liked very much. It had self clean, time bake etc. and a manual knob to change the temperature easily without tapping the keypad a lot of times to get the temperature raised or lowered. Now I have the new GE (other companies I am sure are similar) and everything is done by touch pad. To change the temperature you first have to turn the stove to clear and start all over again (I am not even talking about Shabbos or Yom Tov here). I only use Shabbos mode to have the oven turn off at a set time on Fri, night. It is so hard to set and to set it at the last minute takes too long. I wish they'd go back to making the old stoves without the fancy touchpads (sure they look sleeker and are easier to clean, but convenient - FEH!). With the old ovens I used to raise and lower the temperature on the oven on Yom Tov. If the flame was on, I would raise it, if it was off, I would lower it. It wasn't a problem like with the new stoves. For Shomer Shabbos customers, they should just go back to making the old style stoves. Everything about them was easier - setting the time, temp, etc.

43

 May 30, 2012 at 10:47 AM Aryeh Says:

What's the big deal? Just use a blech like everybody else.

44

 May 30, 2012 at 02:06 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

I have a regular oven and I was concerned about the oven shutting off so all you have to do is call the company and they can walk or talk you through how to shut off that mode! No $600 needed or any hashgacha needed! This doesn't take to much brains! For a doctor to complain about this is outstanding. Just follow the detailed instructions in the booklet or call customer service why would anyone spend $600 for a Shabbos oven is beyond me! If anyone wants to pay me $600 to call customer service for them and have it shut off let me know! The only time it doesn't work is if the electric goes out and it needs to be reprogrammed!

Not quite so simple. My wife called customer service hoping they would talk her through it and they refused, told her it couldn't be done. I then called technical support - same thing, "can't be done." They are afraid of liability and wouldn't tell you how to do just about anything. I had to figure out and disable that shut off by myself. Virtually no woman will be able to do it.

45

 May 31, 2012 at 01:05 PM OPElly Says:

Reply to #27  
rationalsavta Says:

I have the same problem with my GE"Sabbath mode" Oven that was purchased 6 years ago.I bought it at The Buzz & was assured that it is indeed a Sabbath mode. It Is Not, & I can't use it on yontif since there are no digital numbers, one cannot tell what the temperature of the oven is.
The model # is JGBP28BEK3ct. The serial # is DL218 189 P.

Is there anyone else who owns this oven? Have you found a way to use it on yontif???

We bought a standalone oven thermometer for yom tov for exactly this reason. Any supermarket should have them.

46

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