Positive Muslim News

News about good things Muslims are doing in North America and around the world.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Muslim handles emergencies for Jews during Sabbath


JERUSALEM—In a city marinated in archaic traditions, rigid rituals and surreal customs, Abu Ali still has one of Jerusalem's oddest jobs.

This 52-year-old Muslim works for Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community as a so-called Shabbos goy—a service Barack Obama, Colin Powell and Harry Truman also performed in other communities.

From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, when strictly observant Jews honor the holy day of rest by taking a break from work, TV, laptops, cell phones, shopping and the normal vagaries of life, Abu Ali is there to serve their emergency Sabbath needs.

He turns on air conditioners for families when it's hot. He turns off lights accidentally left on. And he rushes pregnant wives to the hospital. Lots of pregnant wives.

Abu Ali, who asked to be identified only by his nickname because he hasn't told friends and neighbors about his unusual job, is one of a select few Arab-Israelis working as a Shabbos goy in Jerusalem. He's an atypical Muslim serving Orthodox Jews in a city where the two communities more often collide than connect.


On authorized fliers that Abu Ali hands out, community leaders vouch for his character by noting that he has passed Israeli security checks and worked as a trusted Jerusalem bus driver for 25 years.

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