A year after introducing a line of ovens that allowed for automated use during Shabbat, General Electrical Appliances is preparing to roll out refrigerators and freezers with the same built-in technology.
The line of 45 top-freezer refrigerators is to include manually operated, built-in Enhanced Shabbos Mode (EHM). Products with the feature will include the Orthodox Union (OU) Kosher symbol on the product and will be certified by both the OU and the Central Rabbinical Congress (CRC)/Hisachdus-Harabanim.
“Improving access to kosher-certified appliances is in keeping with our mandate to support kosher observance,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher. “We’re pleased to be part of this important collaboration that offers consumers another option to maintain kashrus in their homes.”
The EHM function automates the cooling or heating system, cutting off the electrical flow through the door switches and automating sensors so computers can’t turn on any systems when opening or closing the door. That includes touch screens, water dispensers, and, in some models, ice makers. Additionally, it controls interior lights, which stay on throughout Shabbat at lower brightness levels.
The technology was developed through OU Kosher’s partnership with ZMAN Technologies, which is now working to develop an app to control the functionality of smart appliances with EHM.
Rabbi Tzvi Ortner, who heads OU’s kosher technology department, has been working on Shabbat mode tech for the past eight years and began partnering with General Electrical Appliances CEO Kevin Nolan five years ago.
“Simply unscrewing refrigerator light bulbs isn’t really an option anymore now that refrigerators are more sophisticated and use LED lighting,” Orner said. “The new GEA refrigerators will include EHM so that Jews have no issues, without cutting corners and without any drama.”
Currently, all other OU Kosher-certified refrigerator platforms from General Electrical Appliances, such as Monogram, Profile and Café models, require ZMAN Technologies’ Shabbos Keeper for EHM. A Shabbos Keeper device plugs into the data port of the refrigerator, automatically setting it to EHM each week, then back to weekday mode after Havdalah on Saturday evening.
“When people think of kosher, they typically just think about food,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of OU Kosher. “This development shows yet another way we’re evolving with the needs of kosher consumers and expanding in the realm of technology.”
The new models are expected to be available at local appliance dealers in March.