New Square ‘Shabbos goy’ discovered to be Jewish

The sexagenarian insisted he was Catholic, but a Jewish court found otherwise.

New Square Safety Patrol. Credit: Mo Gelber/Shtetl

Jun 7, 2024 11:55 AM


One long-serving security guard employed as a Shabbos goy in the Hasidic village of New Square recently lost that position when he was found to lack the one crucial qualification: non-Jewishness, according to the Haredi news outlet Monsey Scoop. Despite identifying as Catholic, he was considered Jewish under Jewish law because of his maternal Ukrainian grandmother, the news outlet said. 

Chaverim ad regarding their Shabbos goy. Source: Community Connections

Since Jews are forbidden to do anything that is defined as work on Shabbos and many holidays, they often ask non-Jewish neighbors to help out with tasks like turning on lights or air conditioners. In Haredi neighborhoods like New Square, this informal practice can be a lot more formal, as local organizations, including emergency response organizations such as Hatzalah or Chaverim, hire non-Jews to be available to perform such tasks to members of the community.

This particular man worked in New Square for 15 years, the Monsey Scoop said, before revealing in a casual conversation with a resident that his grandmother was Jewish, prompting a local Jewish rabbinical court to order local activists to conduct an investigation.

The investigation found that even though the sexagenarian insisted he was Catholic, Jewish ancestry ran through his mother’s side of the family, making him legally Jewish according to Orthodox tradition, the Monsey Scoop said. Haredi Jews are forbidden from causing fellow Jews to work on Shabbos.

The roll call of famous Shabbos goyim is surprisingly long – both Louis Armstrong and Elvis Presley were proud of helping their Jewish neighbors out on shabbos. And, from the realm of politics, the list of Shabbos helpers includes former U.S. president Barack Obama, Vice President Al Gore, and former New York governor Mario Cuomo.