The Masters Group, in collaboration with the Orthodox Union in the United States, has announced that it has identified an electronic device that could allow security officials to alert synagogue worshipers to a terrorist threat without violating Shabbat laws. .
“As the High Holidays approach, now is the time to take steps to step up security,” Orthodox Union President Mark Bane said in a press release. “Although we pray that nothing happens, if it does, we now have an effective way to alert our synagogues on a Shabbat or holy day.”
Jewish law permits breaking the commandments if it saves a life. The use of a communication system in the event of imminent danger is therefore widely accepted in cases of force majeure.
The new system, available from Relay, which makes technology for businesses and families, takes the form of a “receiving device”. A rechargeable hand-held device would be kept near the rabbi’s seat or worn on the belt of a designated devotee.
Some synagogues have already installed systems such as emergency buttons, allowing law enforcement to be quickly alerted in the event of an incident. But unlike those buttons, which users must press to trigger an emergency response, the new, always-on device would serve as a megaphone to broadcast any threat it detects from a command center in Chicago.
If the Masters group identifies a threat to a particular synagogue or location, then a message could be delivered to worshipers who are in the threatened location.
Some synagogues have used this technology on an experimental basis. Today, the Orthodox Union is urging more of them to buy Relay devices to protect their community.