this is what I looked like at my 20th high school reunion, which i did, with some trepidation, attend

This is me in an elevator that had been specially programmed for the Jewish singles sharing our ballroom. It had been programmed to stop on every floor. Apparently, the Torah prohibits the pushing of elevator buttons, but not the use of elevators themselves… There is much, much more that I could write about my high school reunion, but I’ll leave it at that.

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  1. srah
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    As I understand it, you’re not supposed to push elevator buttons because it’s a form of “work”, which is prohibited on the Sabbath. Same with light switches. When I was in Israel they had some kind of special Sabbath alarm clock, but I never needed it so I never found out how it was different from a regular alarm clock. Presumably you don’t have to turn it off yourself.

  2. be OH be
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    wow, I never knew the restrictions against work on the Sabbath were so all-encompassing. I would guess toenail clipping is right out then.

  3. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    It looks like the subliminal ad for water worked on you.

  4. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    And doesn’t the act of walking into an elevator expend more energy than pushing a button?

    I’m not one to question the religious practices of others, so long as they don’t impact the lives of others, but this prohibition against work has always seemed odd to me, especially given the fact that most people, it seems, find ways to work around it.

  5. Ted Glass
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    May I ask a question?

    Were the Jewish singles dancing on their side of the ballroom, or were they all just lying on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, quietly conserving energy?

  6. dorothy
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    my husband’s best friend has a series of timers in his house set to go on at dark and off in the am. he’s very observant. we went to his place for passover one year and he explained everything to us, but i didn’t retain much. it was extremely interesting and historical.

  7. srah
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it. “Pushing” doesn’t seem to be listed, but maybe the act of turning on the little light behind the button is like “kindling a fire.”

  8. It's Skinner Again
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I think pushing the elevator button with your Whizzinator is probably okay, since it’s not really part of your body.

  9. Jack
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I wonder how hard would it be to make an elevator that had voice recognition? Or maybe one with optical scanners so you could just look at the floor you wanted to go to. Surely there is a market for this between New York and Israel alone, right?

  10. Ted Glass
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that if you’re part of a religion that says “no hats” you either don’t wear one, or you fight to have the rule changed. You don’t go around wearing a hat and calling it something else.

  11. UBU
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    How about ball shaving on the sabbath? (I need to know quick — it’s Friday!)

  12. mark
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Like in the olden days, you hire someone else to pluck them.

  13. mark
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Jack, that’s it! A voice-activated, Hebrew-speaking, ball-shaving robot butler! It’s brilliant! We’ll all be rich!!!

  14. mark
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I like the idea that pushing the elevator button is like kindling a little fire. It’s poetic and beautiful. Thanks, Srah.

    And, as for your contribution, Mr. Skinner, I found it neither poetic nor beautiful. Erotic, yes, but not those other two things.

  15. Anonymatt
    Posted August 12, 2006 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Unsurprisingly, Mark gets a couple details wrong. The Jewish group wasn’t “sharing our ballroom,” it was one of three groups hosting an event at the large hotel that night. they had their own room.

    I’m not sure what the group was for, but I don’t think it was a singles group, judging by the large amount of small children. (In fact, it was a running joke that whenever one of our group first took the elevator, we each had thought that the kids running around had pushed all the buttons.) The group was called “Friends of X,” where X is a name that I forget. For some reason, I have the impression that X is a place in Israel, but I didn’t pay close enough attention to be sure.

    When I first went to my hotel room, my electronic key wouldn’t open the door because the deadbolt had been set. the maintenance man said the deadbolt had been set because my hotel room had originally been set aside for someone in the Jewish group. this happened to several other people from our reunion as well, and none of us knew what it had been done for.

  16. mark
    Posted August 12, 2006 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Yes, all very important things to point out, Matt. They were technically in another area. There was a partition between our events. I’m sorry if that detail confused anyone… You see, in large banquet facilities they often split ballrooms so that they can host multiple events. I had assumed that people would understand this, but I guess I was wrong… Matt was also right in pointing out that, during the day, there were children about, and it might very well not have been an event solely dedicated to singles. That evening, however, all I saw were 20, 30 and 40 year old Jewish men and women introducing themselves and pairing off to chat. It didn’t realy take an Einstein to figure out that it was a singles event… Thank you again Mr. Truthiness.

  17. Anonymatt
    Posted August 12, 2006 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    It seemed to me that the reunion was in its own room within a large hotel complex. It didn’t seem to be partitioned off from anything, but I didn’t examine all the walls.

    I disagree with your logic that because you saw adults of the opposite sex pair off and talk, that therefore it was a singles event. They may have just been left over after parents and kids went to bed. I don’t seem to have paid as much attention to it as you did, though.

    I mainly wished to disuade anyone of the notion that there was a large ballroom with our reunion on one side and a Jewish singles event on the other, as had been speculated.

  18. It's Skinner Again
    Posted August 13, 2006 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    From Mark’s comments, it sounds as if he spent more time with the Jewish group than with the reunion. They probably had a better buffet.

  19. mark
    Posted August 13, 2006 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    There was a security checkpoint separating our group from theirs.

  20. It's Skinner Again
    Posted August 13, 2006 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Which group set up the checkpoint? Did members of either group manage to get through to the other side?

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