Can a Synagogue Run an Online Store on Shabbat?

Written by Jennifer Lieberman

Online shopping is booming and it’s time synagogues joined the eCommerce revolution.

synagogue gift shop - beth david synagogueNearly all synagogues have a gift shop, yet we couldn’t find one example of a synagogue selling their merchandise online. Unrestricted by location or time of day, an online store allows your gift shop to generate revenue even when your in-person store is closed. Imagine selling your Judaica round-the-clock. Day and night! 24/7!

Sounds good, right? However, one question remains – what happens on Shabbat? Should a synagogue’s online store remain open?

B&H, a major photo and video supplier based in NYC, famously turns their online store off every Friday at sundown.

bandh-shabbat-closing

 

While items may be placed in the customer’s shopping cart, if he or she tries to submit the order a message appears indicating when sales may once again be processed.

 

synagogue gift shop- shabbat closing - b and h shabbat message

 

As a Hasidic owned and operated company, B & H’s decision to hold sales aligns with the Orthodox interpretation of foregoing all business transactions during Shabbos.

But, Jews observe the Sabbath in a multitude of ways. What’s right for B&H may not be for your congregation. Tradition and practice vary, but restricting the exchange of money on Shabbat crosses all denominational lines. Although adherence may vary on the individual level, all synagogue offices are officially closed for business.

The online realm raises many new questions and offers great opportunities for discussion. Should your online gift shop close on Shabbat?

Ultimately, it’s a decision that must be reached by the congregation and its clergy.

For those congregations who would like to close their online store on Shabbat and other holidays, the technology is there to facilitate this choice.

Our online stores run on WooCommerce, one of the most popular eCommerce platforms for WordPress websites. There is also a fantastic add-on available called WooStore Vacation. This tool allows you to turn your online store off for a certain period of time – a perfect solution for closing sales on Shabbat and other holidays. Our goal at Addicott Web is to help you modernize your synagogue in a way that works best for your congregation.

 


Considering starting an online store, but don’t know where to begin?

Be in touch and let us guide you through the process. We understand the needs of Jewish organizations and are here to help your community thrive online.

Contact us to learn more >

About Jennifer Lieberman

As the business manager for Addicott Web, Jennifer Lieberman is focused on ensuring that every web design client has a website that reflects the vibrancy of its community online. She lives in Westchester County, New York.

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