The Zomet Institute of Halacha and Technology, which specializes in adapting modern devices foruse within the scope of Jewish law, has developed a “kosher” walkie talkie – one that can be used on Shabbat, when Jews are generally forbidden to use electronic equipment.
The device was developed at the behest of the Chabad House in Hong Kong, in order to enhance security on Shabbat, but also in a way that conforms with Jewish law.
It should be noted that prohibitions against using communications equipment, such as walkie-talkies, are generally suspended on Shabbat because of the “danger to life” that could result from a lack of security, especially in public places like synagogues.
The request by the Chabad House officials was made in order to enable more people to participate in security patrols, providing them with a method of communication that they can feel comfortable with.
Many organizations around the world have pointed to recent terror attacks against Jewish institutions and individuals, such as the attacks on a kosher grocery in Paris and a Chabad House in Mumbai, in which police were slow to respond.
As a result many institutions have decided that getting more involved with their own protection efforts makes sense.
Engineers worked on the project for several months, using principles they have employed in the past to develop devices such as the Shabbat telephone, which is widely used in hospitals, schools, police stations, and other public institutions.
The Institute developed the device as a walkie-talkie instead of a cellphone, said director and Chief Zomet engineer Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, because communications are more efficient with a walkie-talkie, and less likely to be affected by network outages in the case of a mass emergency.
Rosen said that Zomet had received many requests for “Shabbat friendly” communications devices in recent months, as well as for electronic gates, camera and video recording systems, alarm systems, emergency lighting, and other security equipment.
“We will do everything we can to help our fellow Jews in the diaspora to protect their lives while maintaining the highest levels of Sabbath observance,” he said.