Star K: Inaccuracies in OU Guide to Pesach 2016 Regarding Star-K Certified Sabbath Mode Appliances


The following, written by Margie Pensak, was issued by the Star K:

Ever since 1998, the year after Whirlpool Corporation (the manufacturer of Kitchen Aid) approached STAR-K to help modify their ovens for use on Shabbos and Yom Tov—the launch of a historic technological project between a major appliance manufacturer and a kosher certification agency—Sabbath observant consumers have benefitted from appliances that conform to halachic guidelines. STAR-K certified “Sabbath Mode” models of ovens and refrigerators include those that have unique software/hardware designed to specifically address theirhalachic concerns.

The functions of these Sabbath Mode appliances, developed by STAR-K Kosher Certification with the help of STAR-K Engineering Consultant Jonah Ottensoser, are intricate and complicated. Some of them were recently referred to inaccurately, inthe OU Guide to Passover 2016 [“Navigating Kitchen Appliance Technology”, by Rabbi Eli Gersten(pages 40-45)].

These inaccuracies include:

  1. On page 41: “….in addition, burners will turn off completely if the door is left open for an extended period of time.  The exact duration will differ from one model to the next (test your oven to see how long it takes for the burners to turn off when the oven door is opened, i.e., 60, 90 seconds.)  Some ovens turn off after as little as two seconds. ….These functions are not disabled even if the oven has a functioning “Sabbath Mode.”  This statement is false:  Star-K certified ovens with Sabbath Mode have a delay of at least 15 seconds or more between the time the door is opened/closed and the time the element shuts off or turns on.
  2. On page 43, in the discussion of compressors, the article states: “Even the slightest change in temperature will cause a change in the speed of the compressor; simply opening the door for one second will cause the compressor to pump faster.”As far as we know, nothing will change within “one second.”
  3. On page 43, a “specially designed plug-in timer such as one developed by Zman Technologies, which is recommended by the OU, that toggles the refrigerator on and off, thus enabling one to use their refrigerator when the power is off without any halachic issues.” The author neglects to mention that use of this type of timer could potentially damage the normal functioning of the refrigerator, and might invalidate their warranty. Consumers need to check with the manufacturer before installing a timer.
  4. On page 45, the article references the Frigidaire FGHN2866 French Door Refrigerator. The chart states that “The defrost heater works with an adaptive defrost system, even in Sabbath Mode.”  This is not true.  All our certified refrigerators run the defrost cycle on straight clock time when in the Sabbath Mode.  The consumer has NO influence on the defrost operation.

Please note that this article was written to present a worst case scenario with modern appliances.  It would have been better if the reader was told that many ovens can be bought without door switches or even computer control altogether.  In addition, the reader should have been told that the still available coil cook tops do not have computer control and many of the glass tops also do not.

As always, before purchasing an appliance, consumers need to check the STAR-K website regarding current models and how they may or may not be used on the Sabbath and Yom Tov.

For the most up-to-date information regarding alerts, companies, and specific models of ovens and refrigerators under STAR-K certification, please visit the STAR-K website,, or call 410-484-4110.