Powered by WebAds

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Battling in Baltimore Over Shabbat Elevator

There's an interesting article in the Baltimore Sun regarding a vote against installing a Shabbat elevator in a Baltimore area building:
The vote from the Strathmore Tower condominium board was simple: Down with the Sabbath elevator.

But what some thought was a straightforward vote has erupted into a religious and racially tinged controversy to others in this majority senior citizen-occupied condominium complex in Upper Park Heights.

The supporters - most of whom are Jewish - say the option for a Sabbath elevator wouldn't have cost extra money and would have aided Orthodox Jewish and disabled residents while helping resale prices. Foes say such an elevator is inconvenient and could cost more.
Residents of the building allege that this was a discriminatory move on the part of the board majority who voted against the installation of a Shabbat elevator, as the elevators would have cost around the same price and would have helped many of the building's elderly, Shabbat-observant residents. They feel that considering the comparable cost, choosing the elevator with the Shabbat option would make sense from a convenience and resale value perspective.

There are other buildings in the area that have chosen to install elevators with the Shabbat option, even if the lack of a sizable Orthodox population in some of those building keeps them from activating it.

It isn't even only the building's Orthodox residents who support a Shabbat elevator:
But even residents who aren't Orthodox, or have no need for a Sabbath elevator, say the decision makes no sense.

Doris Lippens, who practices Reform Judaism, says the elevator will raise property values and accommodate Sabbath visitors who are Orthodox. "I would look forward to the fact that on a resale, having the Sabbath elevator to take people up to the seventh, eighth, ninth floor would be a good selling point," Lippens said.

She, like many other residents, says religious and racial tension is not always evident. "It's under the surface, basically," she says. "But every now and then the ugliness peaks out."
Obviously, the board majority gets to make the final decision here - and it looks like they have. But it's really a pity to see them being so shortsighted as far as installing an elevator that at least provides the option to be used as a Shabbat elevator in the future as demographics in the bulding change. Because as we all know, sometimes demographics change faster than people expect.

(related)

8 Comments:

Blogger mother in israel said...

To state the obvious point that was omitted even from the original article: Once such an elevator is installed the building will quickly become overwhelmingly Orthodox, and that is much more of a concern than a bit of inconvenience a few times a week or "sticking it" to your Jewish neighbors. It may even be worth risking a future lower property value.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mother in israel said...
To state the obvious point that was omitted even from the original article: Once such an elevator is installed the building will quickly become overwhelmingly Orthodox, and that is much more of a concern than a bit of inconvenience a few times a week or "sticking it" to your Jewish neighbors. It may even be worth risking a future lower property value.

Last time I checked, the property value goes up when there are more conveniences offered, and for that matter when Jews move in.
The Shabbat feature can be installed later. It's relatively simple to do so.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to thank Orthomom for this non-five towns post. While I do live in the five towns and love the political posts, it's been awhile since a different topic has been discussed, so thank you. Also, I miss your more light-hearted funnier rantings.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the big deal about making automatic stops on each floor for Shabbos?

As a non-observant Jew, I don't see a problem.

However, look at Williamsburgh - property values don't go up when Orthodox come in. However, with development going on there now and prices going up, the Orthodox are benefiting.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

prices don't go up when orthodox Jews move in. They vary based on the size and the economic strength of the orthodox community. usually, they go up temporarily before dropping back down. But speaking as an orthodox Jew, shabbat elevators are annoying. If I wasn't an orthodox Jew I would not want to wait for an elevator to stop at every floor before reaching my own. Even now I walk up the eleven flights rather than taking a shabbat elevator. When i get too old, I'll move.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

The second half of that article describes what I think is a more clear-cut case: some bogus-sounding security reason for closing off a side door, forcing residents to have a much lengthier walk to shul. Seems like a much more reasonable accomodation than a potentially aggravating shabbos-mode elevator.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the desire to avoid "manual labor" on a particular day of observance. But I didn't need to go to law school to recognize that depressing an elevator button does not constitute such. No more so than turning a door knob to open a door. The real issue here is about control of the membership and protecting the status, power and money of the church and it's leaders. By constantly applying and reinterpreting ancient, arcane, even obsolete or foolish laws, the leaders safeguard their power and position (also true in many other religions, professions, politics, etc.). Since this blog and comments appeared, a major ultra-orthodox "thinker" and leader, announced that even using a shabbot elevator constitutes "manual labor". By elevating(!) himself to the level of a Moses, he protects his dominion. Every frat boy knows that the more one endures to become a member or remain one in good standing, has the effect upon the weaker minded of solidifying unquestioning loyalty and blind faith.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous www.gerona-3d.com said...

Thanks for your article, very useful information.

3:20 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home