Updated January 2023
Appliance manufacturers, with the aid of modern technology, have designed kitchen appliances to be safer and more efficient while incorporating various features to enhance operation. However, the integration of this technology may pose a challenge to their proper use on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
THE INTRODUCTION OF SABBATH MODE
In 1997, a historic technological project was launched between a major appliance manufacturer and a kosher certification agency. Whirlpool Corporation (manufacturer of KitchenAid) approached STAR-K to help modify their ovens for use on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Prior to that time, many of their appliances did not conform to halachic guidelines.
Following some adjustments, a successful mode was developed. Whirlpool called this “Sabbath Mode” and was awarded a patent in 1998 for this concept.
STAR-K kosher certification on appliances falls into one of two categories:
1. Sabbath Mode Appliances – these are models that have unique software/hardware specifically engineered to address the halachic concerns of the Sabbath-observant consumer.
2. Sabbath Compliant Appliances – are pre-manufactured models that STAR-K assessed per manufacturer request, and determined they complied with Jewish law for use on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
The creation of the Sabbath Mode and Sabbath Compliant certifications was intended to help consumers avoid purchasing a costly oven or stove that they would be unable to use on Sabbath and Jewish holidays.
STAR-K’s Sabbath Mode Appliance Search page lists manufacturers of Sabbath Mode and Sabbath Compliant appliances and enables you to search by brand and specific model number.
SABBATH MODE OVENS
NOTE: The Sabbath Mode feature does not grant us permission to turn appliances on or off during Shabbos. Nor does Sabbath Mode allow us to use these appliances completely at will, either on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Simply, it enables us to use these appliances within the guidelines of Halacha.
Ovens with the Sabbath Mode will not shut off after 12 hours of continuous operation. In many cases, Sabbath Mode will prevent the oven light from going on/off as the door is opened/closed. Note that in some models, the bulb must be unscrewed or the light left on for the entire period. No lights, digital displays, solenoids, fans, icons, tones or displays will be activated/modified in the normal operation of the oven.
With ovens that are Sabbath Mode certified, the preset temperature CAN be raised or lowered on Yom Tov (but NOT on Shabbos) for cooking purposes at any time. This is because there is a built-in delay (known as a “grama”) between the request for temperature change and its actual implementation.
Ovens certified as Sabbath Compliant have the same basic features as those with Sabbath Mode, except no delay has been built into the set temperature change process. Therefore, the temperature CANNOT be changed on Yom Tov.
Adjustment of the set temperature may still be possible on Yom Tov on some models that do not have a digital temperature readout. Instead, these models have an indicator light that cycles on/off as power flows to the heating elements. One can raise the temperature when the light is ON and lower it when it is OFF.
For other Sabbath Compliant models which do not have a cycling indicator light, the set temperature chosen before Yom Tov CANNOT be adjusted on Yom Tov.
Many ovens have a Time Bake feature that instructs the oven to go off after a fixed period of time. Be advised that, after the time runs out, many models chime indefinitely, or have an icon or light that is canceled when the door is first opened.
Consumers should be aware that Time Bake is a stand-alone feature and is not always available in Sabbath Mode certified models. Consumers who seek to purchase an oven with both Time Bake and Sabbath Mode features should carefully conduct their own research and not make any assumptions that both features co-exist in any particular oven.
A warming drawer has the same halachic status as a standard oven, since they present the same issues: they are thermostatically controlled, and their lowest temperature is often above 120°F. As is the case with a standard oven, all food must be placed in the warming drawer BEFORE the start of Shabbos.
For safety reasons, most ovens will not recover from a power failure in the ON condition. Some exceptions are noted on STAR-K’s website.
SABBATH MODE REFRIGERATORS
Refrigerators have also started incorporating modern technology. In addition, there are old issues which still require resolution. These include when to open the refrigerator door on Shabbos, and what to do about heating elements that turn on to defrost the coils. STAR-K has developed a set of criteria through which the latest technological advancements are employed to alleviate these problems.
After entering the certified mode (called either Sabbath or Holiday Mode), the consumer does not need to worry about lights, digital displays, icons, tones, alarms, solenoids or fans being activated/deactivated when opening or closing the door. A built-in delay prevents the compressor from turning on immediately after the door is opened.
The defrost cycle operates solely on clock time, without any feedback from the consumer’s use of the refrigerator. Many manufacturers control the defrost cycle by counting the number and length of door openings, which may pose a halachic problem.
Finally, the ice and cold water systems will be deactivated since they invariably use electrical solenoids and motors to operate.
After a power failure, units will return to the certified mode.
If you are using an app on your smartphone to control your appliance, it is recommended that you disconnect from the app or at a minimum turn off your smartphone before Shabbos/Yom Tov to preclude any communication between the appliance and the phone.
This article is merely an overview of the application of modern technology to appliances, and how it affects the Orthodox Jewish consumer. For certified models and guidelines for their proper usage, go to our Sabbath Mode Appliance Search page.
For more information, visit our Sabbath Mode page.