August 20, 2018

GE in High Tech Sabbath Refrigerator Partnership with Zman and OU

Clifton NJ…For many kashrus agencies, kosher has gone well beyond food, extending to appliances, shavers, beauty products as well as an increasing number of pharmaceuticals. In a unique partnership that involves General Electric (GE), the Orthodox Union (OU), and Zman Technologies, GE is incorporating new technology developed by Zman to resolve complex issues of using modern-day refrigerators on Shabbos, the Jewish Sabbath. Called the Shabbos Keeper, GE has upgraded the traditional Shabbos Mode which requires activation prior to Shabbos to a new automated “mini-computer” that automatically sets the refrigerator for Shabbos and the holidays based upon the location of the fridge. For example, a refrigerator situated in Lakewood NJ would be preset with the correct onset and termination of the Sabbath until the year 2050.

According to Darin Franks, Chief Engineer at General Electric, today’s refrigerators have “as many as seven or eight computers on-board.” Many compressors run periodically, or continually but at variant power levels, and are often affected directly by each and every opening or closing of the fridge door. Switches that could once be circumvented before Shabbat are now commonly replaced by sensors that cannot be avoided. Supervised by Rabbi Tzvi Ortner, who is the advisor of technology and Halacha (Jewish law) for the OU, GE now features the technology in a large number of its models. With the GE/Zman/OU Shabbos Keeper, door switches are deactivated, light bulbs stay on all Shabbos, auto defrost system is fully automated, and sensors, internal computers, touch screens, water dispensers and icemakers are deactivated. Kashrus sources expect the new technology to become the standard in observant homes in the coming years.