Buzz Me In: An Apartment Dweller’s Shabbat Dilemma

Salon is featuring a question about someone who doesn’t want to let shomer Shabbat people into her building:
buzzer.jpgDear Cary,

I live in a doorman-less building. A Sabbath observer [an observant Orthodox Jew] recently moved in and invites friends to visit on the Sabbath; however, because of Sabbath rules regarding the use of machines, they won’t use the phone or the building security system. They wait in the vestibule until someone lets them in.

I never admit strangers, but they are persistent. One stuck his foot into the doorjamb as I tried to enter, and pushed past me, as I was trying to explain to him that he would have to get permission from a resident to let him in.

Recently, there was an armed robbery nearby and I’m concerned about our security. My senile landlord is religious and I’m afraid that if I complain, my rent will go sky-high at the next lease renewal. As a feminist, an atheist and a secular Jew, my irritation about the security issue is increased by my disgust with their religious practices. I’m considering sending an anonymous note to this tenant, suggesting they find a more secure way of admitting Sabbath guests, but my fury is interfering with drafting a civil or constructive note.


Whoa. “My irritation about the security is increased by my disgust with their religious practices”? Down, girl!

I understand this woman’s concern, though I find it to be expressed in a way that seems almost laughably overwrought. She isn’t (or doesn’t seem to be) concerned that these Sabbath observers are going to attack her, so what’s the big deal? If there’s someone sketchy standing near the building door, don’t let them in. If you know what the story is, and you think they’re annoying or obnoxious, but not dangerous, then, you know, get over yourself.

That said, the response given is nicely put. Among other things, Cary says, “If he can’t or won’t provide them with keys, then they should all synchronize their watches and arrive at such a time as he can be down in the lobby to let them in. That’s not so onerous, is it? One has to make sacrifices for one’s religion, right? Besides, waiting is a good, restful activity.”

Then, for reasons that I don’t totally get, Cary brings up the Church of Science that I’ve mentioned before, and ends with, ” So good luck with this, you … you … feminist, atheist, secular Jew, you! (Cue old man shaking fist at woman with streaks of purple hair.)”  Can I just say, not everyone with purple streaks in her hair is an atheist and/or a secular Jew.

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