Prominent ultra-Orthodox adjudicators published a letter on Tuesday calling on believers to avoid entering public spaces that conduct temperature checks on the Shabbat, both manually and automatically.
"Temperature checks run at the entrance to hospitals and other public places (such as guest houses, etc.) raise concerns of transgressing the prohibition on work on the Shabbat – so do any electronic operations done to measure temperature or any writing generated on a monitor as a result," the letter read.
As a solution to the problem, the signees proposed that non-Jewish workers will be responsible for conducting temperature checks on the weekend.
"Entering these places on Shabbat is strictly prohibited, except life-threatening situations according to Jewish law. The right thing for hospitals would be to let non-Jews perform the checks and allow entry to patients in non-life-threatening situations as well."
Meanwhile, the Zomet Institute - an Israeli high-tech non-profit organization specializing in IT equipment and electronic appliances designed to meet Jewish law standards - claims that such automatic electrical activities, whose benefit to the user is uncertain, are allowed on Shabbat.
The institute said that "writing" digits over an LCD monitor is done by simply modifying the position of molecules, and therefore it should not be considered prohibited writing on Shabbat if it is automatically generated.
According to these two standards, the Zomet Institute has recently developed a thermometer approved for use on Shabbat.
Avraham Reznikov, rabbi of Ichilov Hospital, where the thermometers in question are installed, also addressed the issue, comparing automatic thermometers to security cameras.
"From a halakhic standpoint, there is no difference between using security cameras in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter and thermal cameras that warn of higher-than-normal temperatures," said Reznikov.