Orthodox Union and RCA: Shabbat Protocols In Case Of A Hurricane Or Other Disasters

October 1, 2015

Developed by Rav Kenneth Brander with profound thanks to Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, for his guidance. Click here for a more detailed article with extensive citations.

If a hurricane occurs on Shabbat or Yom Tov, stay home.  In the case of Shabbat, we will lain two parshiyot next week.

If there is no electricity on Shabbat or Yom Tov but storm is over.  If  safe…

  • Minyan only during daylight hours
  • Shacharit    _____am.
  • Mincha will be held at ______.
  • Parshat _________ will be read next week for those unable to attend shul this week.
  • If there is electricity, services will be held as regularly scheduled.

Assume no Eruv

  • Carrying permitted for life/limb threatening situations.
  • Carrying permitted for individuals who need medical attention without which a person’s functionality is compromised, even for a bed-ridden headache. In this case carrying should be done, if possible, in an irregular fashion (i.e. carrying medicine in one’s belt or shoe).
  • Carrying permitted to allow a baby, infirm senior, someone with psychological challenges,  or a child/adult traumatized by the event to function without compromise. In this case, carrying should be done, if possible, in an irregular fashion.

Use of Candles, Glowsticks & Flashlights

  • Hang/place lit flashlights with fresh batteries in key locations before Shabbat and Yom Tov.
  • It is recommended to use LED flashlights over incandescent flashlights because they will last longer. Some claim to even last 48 hours.
  • Light yahrzeit or hurricane candles before Shabbat and place them in designated locations.
  • Be careful about using candles in an area that might cause a fire.
  • Glowsticks, if possible, they should be opened before Shabbat.
  • A point of consideration: Open glow sticks prior to Shabbat and then freeze them. This decelerates the chemical reaction allowing them to last longer (when removed from the freezer).
  • In a state of darkness and there are no prepared glow sticks, it would certainly be permitted to ask a Gentile to crack the glow stick and, when that option is not available, a Jew him/herself would be permitted to do so to insure that no trauma nor any other physical danger adversely affect any individual.

If Flashlight/Candle goes out:

  • When necessary (to take care of children, to eat etc…) and there is no other light, a Gentile can relight or change batteries.
  • If not having the light may create a life threatening situation, one may do so oneself.

Moving a Flashlight is permitted.


Moving Candles is permitted in the following situations:

  • For any medical concerns no matter how slight.
  • For the comfort and welfare of seniors and children under eight (or above eight years old when child is traumatized by the event).

Television or Radio

  • TV or radio should be left on in a side room.
  • A streaming radio app set up before Shabbat/Yom Tov can also be used in a side room (this might not be such a good suggestion as a lost internet connection may affect the app)
  • The TV or radio should only be used to listen to the news
  • Channel should not be changed.
  • Volume on radio (if dials are not digital) may be adjusted on Shabbat or Yom Tov. Better to keep it on low for it preserves the battery and only raise volume if necessary.