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    Default Fire prevention vs. religion

    Has anyone else ever had this issue? How would you deal with it? I just thought this would be one of those great catch-22 discussions.

    Ancient tradition plays a role in modern tragedy

    BY DAVE GOLDINER
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

    It's a classic case of ancient tradition versus modern-day safety.
    Many Orthodox Jewish families observe a custom that leads them to leave their stoves switched on overnight during the weekly Sabbath or holidays.

    But fire officials say lit stoves or candles should never be left unattended.

    The clash likely won't end, even after the latest tragedy involving a fire started by a lighted stove.

    Observant Jews say they have little choice in the matter.

    Custom forbids them from operating mechanical equipment, including cars, or turning on or off appliances and other devices during the Sabbath and holidays.

    The tradition mostly causes inconvenience, like forcing Jews to walk up to apartments instead of pushing the elevator buttons. In the case of stoves, it is a more wrenching decision.

    If members of an Orthodox family turn on the stove, they cannot turn it off for the duration of the Sabbath or holiday.

    Several deaths have been blamed on fires started by unwatched candles or stoves in recent years.

    On June 9, 2000, the daughter and granddaughter of Grand Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum died when candles lit for Shavuoth started a blaze in their Williamsburg apartment.

    The FDNY worked with the New York Board of Rabbis to produce a Passover handbook with tips for improving safety in Orthodox homes.

    "You can't leave a stovetop burning," said Salvatore Cassano, FDNY chief of operations. "If your religion predicates that you do, you have to take precautions necessary to prevent a fire from occurring."

    Originally published on April 26, 2005

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    Last edited by FFFRED; 04-26-2005 at 08:32 AM.

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    Well that's just stupid.

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    Unhappy Hot Pants for God..

    That truly is an awkward situation. I think that the only thing you can do is what the FDNY is doing, and that's to work with the religious leaders to try to formulate a plan to educate members of that religion as to what they can do to reduce the fire risk while still observing the tenants of their personal faith.

    Fire prevention and religion have never been the best of friends.. Here in Wisconsin, the Fire Prevention code specifically grants an exemption to the open flame rule to Churches (with certain limitations) contrary to the strict no flame requirement of most other places of assembly. Educating churches as to the safest way to use candles is the best way to go.. I would not recommend going head to head, as 1) Religious organizations are much better lobbyists than Fire Departments, 2) People will practice their faith in their homes as their religion dictates.. Since we have no authority to regulate what people do inside their own homes, our only option is to educate or offer workable options. So Bravo to FDNY for coming up with the only possible solution.

    Oh, and if anyone doubts that fire prevention and religion don't mix, have you seen that Buddhist monk video.. not a particularly good example of Stop, Drop, Cover and Roll!!

    Would love to hear of experiences from others in the FP field who have had an issue and been able to work within religious parameters to create a solution.
    Last edited by Fawlty; 04-26-2005 at 10:20 AM.

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    here's some clarrification on those rules:
    on saturdays, orthodox jewish people aren't permitted to turn on (or off) a stove, a light, their car, anything electric, can't write anything anywhere, and can't use a phone. They also can't adjust something that is currently on.

    during the holidays, the rules are a little different, but the same basic principles apply. while they still can't turn anything on and off, they can adjust thing that are already on. that means you can adjust the flame on the stove, adjust light, but can't turn it on or relight it if it goes out.

    Contrary to what this article says, most orthodox jews DO NOT leave thier stoves during the Sabbath overnights. the reason being, you can't adjust the flame on it. most will prepare the meal before sundown on friday, and then leave the stoves off during the sabbath time, and eat cold meals for breakfast and lunch.

    This past weekend was the sabbath, followed immediately after by the first two days of passover. As a result, most orthodox families needed to leave the stove on (usually at the lowest level low level) with an aluminum tin covering it, to limit the threat of fire, on friday night, so they could still cook on saturday night, sunday and monday.

    and cellblock, your ignorance and lack of tolerance toward the religious practices of others shows your obvious lack of intelligence.
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    Default Re: Fire prevention vs. religion

    Originally posted by FFFRED
    The FDNY worked with the New York Board of Rabbis to produce a Passover handbook with tips for improving safety in Orthodox homes.
    [/B]
    I certainly applaud the FDNY for the help with improving safety. I used to work at a Jewish Catering Hall, in the owners were Orthodox. We, the employees, would more then respect their rules (for lack of better term) for the Sabbath. Not being being Jewish I would do as I was told. I would have to say that education and awareness is the best way to approach this while respecting thier traditions. In the unfortunate case there of a fire, do what has to done.
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    Default From the Top Headlines

    New York City Fire Kills 3 Boys from Same Family
    Updated: 04-26-2005 09:11:32 AM
    SAM DOLNICK
    Associated Press Writer

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Two teenage brothers and their 7-year-old nephew were killed in an apartment fire that authorities believe may have been sparked by a stove left on for three days, a custom observed during Passover in some Orthodox Jewish communities.

    The victims of Monday's blaze were brothers Shyia Matyas, 15, and Yidel Matyas, 13, along with their nephew Shlomi Falkowitz, 7. The parents of the older boys, Shlomi's grandparents, managed to escape.

    ''There are no words to describe,'' said Isaac Abraham, a community representative. ''Children usually bury parents; parents don't bury children.''

    Fire Department spokesman Paul Iannizzotto said officials were investigating whether the stove was left on since Friday due to the observance of the Sabbath and the first two days of Passover, which began Saturday night. Observant Jews are forbidden to light fires or turn on lights during holy days.

    The older boys were the sons of Symah Matyas, a locally prominent chef. The youngest victim of the fire in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section was Matyas's grandson, Abraham said.

    Abraham said one of the victims recently had his bar mitzvah, and that the boys were ''happy, well-educated, with a bright future in life.''

    Matyas's 21-year-old daughter, who was recently engaged, was hospitalized for minor injuries after jumping from a second floor window to escape the flames. Another daughter escaped the building through the front door, Abraham said.

    Five other people were taken to a hospital after suffering smoke inhalation, and two firefighters were treated for minor injuries. Abraham called Matyas and his wife ''exceptional individuals,'' and said they were recovering from their own injuries while dealing with their loss.

    Abraham said the community was upset firefighters took almost four minutes to arrive. ''I can walk slowly from the firehouse to the scene of the fire and get there in under a minute and a half,'' Abraham said.

    Iannizzotto said there were no delays and that response time was better than the average of four minutes and 18 seconds.

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    Talking

    I grew up in the East End of London, which had a large Jewish population. I can remember my father visiting Jewish friends and lighting/extinguishing candles. stoves etc, apparently it was common for the Jewish folks to get the help of their non-Jewish neighbors.

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    and cellblock, your ignorance and lack of tolerance toward the religious practices of others shows your obvious lack of intelligence.
    Please explain to me, oh learned one, what turning an oven off has to do with writings in a book from hundreds of years ago? What "God" came out and said Never turn off an appliance even though none existed? I'm just having a hard time in figuring how/when/why this rule came about. What religious meaning can an appliance have?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Originally posted by Bones42
    Please explain to me, oh learned one, what turning an oven off has to do with writings in a book from hundreds of years ago? What "God" came out and said Never turn off an appliance even though none existed? I'm just having a hard time in figuring how/when/why this rule came about. What religious meaning can an appliance have?
    I was thinking the same thing.

    I would say if you own your own home, leave whatever appliance you want "on". But, if your in an apartment building and this act may endager others, I have to draw a line. Religion or no.
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    Originally posted by Bones42
    Please explain to me, oh learned one, what turning an oven off has to do with writings in a book from hundreds of years ago? What "God" came out and said Never turn off an appliance even though none existed? I'm just having a hard time in figuring how/when/why this rule came about. What religious meaning can an appliance have?
    It is a belief that technology should be avoided during the sabbath. They want to be able to use the stove, but they don't want to turn it on or off as that is interaction with the technology. So they leave it on so that it is available. With a properly working/installed oven it should never be a real problem, the wireing should be able to handle it, and the thermostat should keep it from reaching an temps that would light the thing on fire.
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    Question

    Is it all Orthodox Jews that observe these rules on the Sabbath or just the Hasidic/Lubavitcher sect? I had a friend in high school who was in the reform version of Judaism, there were no restrictions other than the usual dietary laws.
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    It is a belief that technology should be avoided during the sabbath
    And when may that belief have been started? and why? I'm still wondering what "technology" they were worried about avoiding hundreds of years ago when the religion began. Just trying to understand.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    Is it all Orthodox Jews that observe these rules on the Sabbath or just the Hasidic/Lubavitcher sect? I had a friend in high school who was in the reform version of Judaism, there were no restrictions other than the usual dietary laws.
    An orthodox Jew is supposed to as well, but a Roman Catholic is not supposed to eat meat on Fridays during lent also. Some just follow the rules more closely then others, some interpret them for themselves more strictly as well.
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    Originally posted by Bones42
    Please explain to me, oh learned one, what turning an oven off has to do with writings in a book from hundreds of years ago? What "God" came out and said Never turn off an appliance even though none existed? I'm just having a hard time in figuring how/when/why this rule came about. What religious meaning can an appliance have?
    you know Bones, if you really want the answer, you should go down to the local Jewish Temple (conservative would be good, orthodox would be even better) and ask the Rabbi. He can give you a better answer than I.

    but to answer your question to the best of my ability, the oven (or any technological thing) isn't really what the rules are about. The Torah states that no work can be performed on the Sabbath. Now, the sentance that says uses a word that doesn't translate into the "work" of actually going to work, and building stuff, but rather doing work to cause something to. Again, it's been years since I even went over this, so I might be a little off on the other translation, but that is the gist of the reasoning.

    to reiterate, the rules never stated you can't user an appliance. they said you can't change anything, meaning you couldn't light a candle, or build something, or light a fire for food. now, fast forward a couple thousand years, and the same rules apply, only now instead of lighting a candle, they apply to using electricty. This is how the rabinical scholars interpret the rules that were put forth several thousand years ago.

    Dennis, I'm not sure about the technology thing, it actually goes far beyond that (ie, no using a pencil to write on paper).

    Capt Gonzo, the Hasidic/Lubavitcher and Orthodox sectors all follow this. The Conservative ones sometimes do, sometimes don't. The reform ones rarely do. It all depends on what sector you belong to, and how strictly you want to follow the rules.
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    Originally posted by DrParasite


    Dennis, I'm not sure about the technology thing, it actually goes far beyond that (ie, no using a pencil to write on paper).

    A pencil is a piece of technology, ancient technology, but technology none the less.
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    Originally posted by protomkv
    I grew up in the East End of London, which had a large Jewish population. I can remember my father visiting Jewish friends and lighting/extinguishing candles. stoves etc, apparently it was common for the Jewish folks to get the help of their non-Jewish neighbors.
    Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode. Putty is a "religious" man and Elaine is not. They had been having an argument about it over the previous day. Putty is sleeping over at Elaine's house and he sees a newspaper at a neighbor's door across the hallway. He asks her to take the paper. She says, "why don't you do it?". He says, "the bible says stealing is a sin". Elaine replies, "well, why are you asking me to do it?". Putty says, "you're going to hell anyways".

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    Who can understand?

    We have a large Amish community in our area. Can't own a car but can hire one to drive you to town or across the country. Mom can't have electricity in the house but Dad can have in furniture shop to run a table saw. No phones but cell phones ok. Drive buggy to town to purchase beer and a gallon of icecream. No tractors but as many gas engines to run every type of farm machinery.

    Perhaps need to get all the NY gas stoves replaced with electric stoves. Add motion sensor switch/relay and a timer circuit. And just ban the dang candles, a felony perhaps. Has not worked with my wife but a great idea none the less. The electric light has been around for more than a century.

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    How do they charge the cell phones?

    Eric

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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    here's some clarrification on those rules:
    on saturdays, orthodox jewish people aren't permitted to turn on (or off) a stove, a light, their car, anything electric, can't write anything anywhere, and can't use a phone. They also can't adjust something that is currently on.

    during the holidays, the rules are a little different, but the same basic principles apply. while they still can't turn anything on and off, they can adjust thing that are already on. that means you can adjust the flame on the stove, adjust light, but can't turn it on or relight it if it goes out.
    Dr Parasite, maybe you can answer this question for me. Is there some type of exemption given to Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance members that allows them to operate over the Sabbath and Holidays? From my observations, most of the vollies are Orthodox or Hasidim.

    Stay Safe

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    Eric, I was wondering the same thing!

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    I'll clairify what little I know..

    I believe the people that were involved were Hasidic as is much of Williamsburg. The Orthodox Jews seem to mostly live in Boro Park and Sheepshead Bay not in Williamsburg.

    Also the Hatzola thing I think is related to allow them to do anything in an emergency...such as open a door or window or pull a fire alarm box when their building catches fire...etc. Pretty sure that God won't send them to hell for pulling a street box.

    The brothers from E211 and TL 119 had a tough job and I've heard it was a 4 length stretch from the standpipe so it was a tough job all around and everyone did their best as always.

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    Originally posted by FFFRED
    I'll clairify what little I know..
    Also the Hatzola thing I think is related to allow them to do anything in an emergency...such as open a door or window or pull a fire alarm box when their building catches fire...etc. Pretty sure that God won't send them to hell for pulling a street box.
    FTM-PTB
    FFFRED, exactly my point. I'm not trying to interpret any-ones beliefs or be a smart *** but... On the Sabbath you can operate a volunteer ambulance (emergency) when other paid and vol services are available. However, you cannot shut off a device or appliance with an open flame that poses a very significant safety hazard (long history of causing injuries & death) when left unattended. Maybe Iím just too ignorant to understand, as is the case with my lack of understanding how a response time well within established (FDNY) averages is insufficient. Then again, the best defense is a good offense.

    Talk about a political hot potato, Safety--Fire Prevention vs Religion. At what point does safety overrule freedom of religion?

    Stay Safe

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    The next district over has a VERY large Hasidic community ( Kyrias Joel). Their main thing is the day of the bread burning, but this year it was pretty quiet over there. Every now and then they pull a job over there on a saturday morning, but it hasnt been that bad latley

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    Originally posted by tjsnys
    Dr Parasite, maybe you can answer this question for me. Is there some type of exemption given to Hatzolah Volunteer Ambulance members that allows them to operate over the Sabbath and Holidays? From my observations, most of the vollies are Orthodox or Hasidim.
    sort of. The rules state that you can pretty much break the rules IF they need to be broken to save a life. that means that they can operate an ambulance on the sabbath and holidays, even though routine driving around (among other things) aren't permitted. Similarly, an orthodox surgen might carry a pager with him, and if the hospital pages him, he can call to see if his services are needed (as was the case with my uncle). Similarly, a jew who is diabetic can eat what is neccessary on Yom Kippur (a holiday which requires a person to fast for 24 hours), as to not due so could seriously endanger their life.

    Fred, it really doesn't have anything to do with preventative actions. Can they call 911 when their house is burning? yes, especially if there is an imminent potential for injury or death. However, they cannot turn on and turn off an open flame as a preventative measure. Do I agree with that, not really, however that is how they operate.

    On the Sabbath you can operate a volunteer ambulance (emergency) when other paid and vol services are available...Maybe Iím just too ignorant to understand, as is the case with my lack of understanding how a response time well within established (FDNY) averages is insufficient. Then again, the best defense is a good offense.

    Talk about a political hot potato, Safety--Fire Prevention vs Religion. At what point does safety overrule freedom of religion?
    when Hatzola can arrive on scene quicker and begin treating the person or take them to the hospital faster than it would take another volly or paid ambulance to arrive, that allows the exception of imminent emergency to be used. not sure I agree with the FDNY response time thing either, however you know it does seem like forever until someone responds to the scene after you call 911. it might have only been 4 minutes, but it could have seemed like 20 minutes from the perspective of the callers.

    To further the arguement that If you did want to ban this practice for safety reasons, then you should also be banning the use of candles in churches, as an open flame (or several) inside a building can't be safe. While you are at it, you should also limit the amount of christmas lights people can put up in thier houses, because those who put a million lights everywhere (and of course plug them all into one outlet using a power strip) are violating the safety rules for electricty usage, and at great risk for starting an electrical fire.

    btw, I don't neccessarily agree with all the Jewish practices, nor do I pretend to understand why they are what they are. All I can do is tell you what I have been told about the subject. Please don't shoot the messenger on this one.
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    Good discussion here folks.

    About 20 minutes away from me, there is a Jewish population. They have their own ambulance service and will refuse treatment from anyone else. It's a BLS service and ALS is never called/requested. People in that community will only call for their own ambulance, not 911. However, they do not have their own PD or FD and will call 911 for those services.

    I find it interesting to see how others live in the world.
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