The Shabbat Compromise

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A while back, I gave a little plug to the National American Jewish History Museum that’s being built in Philadelphia. Who knew that I would be able to write about the museum with an actual news report?

The museum was in a bit of a conundrum. How would they approach the issue of Shabbat? The museum is not a religious institution. Nor is their target audience necessarily only Jews. But they are still a Jewish institution. So should they be open on Shabbat?

This was also not only a religious question. The museum estimated that approximately a quarter of their revenue could be lost if they were to close on Saturdays. So what do they decide?

According to USA Today, they’ve actually created an interesting compromise. First, tickets will not be available for purchase at the museum on Shabbat. However, you will be able to buy tickets online, in advance or in outside locations.

Secondly, there is the issue of the gift shop. And the compromise there is also interesting. On Saturdays, they will not accept cash as payment. Secondly, they will take credit card information but will not process the transactions until after Shabbat.

Alright, here’s the thing. None of those things are what I would call “shomer Shabbat.” But I still like the effort. The museum has every right to be open on Shabbat. More than that, they provide a good service and to take away one of the two days in the weekend, the most popular time for tourists to visit, would deny people a chance to learn about American Jewish history.

Again, it’s not shomer Shabbat. But the fact that the museum was willing to consider Shabbat is a good thing, and a nice gesture.

Posted on October 20, 2010

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