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