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Captain’s Log: Observing the Sabbath On Board, or How I ‘Sold’ Oosterdam for $1

Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president, Rabbinical Council of America, sealing the deal with Captain van der Loo. Photo by David Walles.

Being the Captain, one constantly encounters new learning experiences. This cruise there is a large group with guests on board with the Orthodox Jewish faith. Especially for them, there is Kosher food and even Kosher cooks. The observance of the Sabbath required some adjustments to the ship’s operation. Among them, one elevator is designated as the Sabbath elevator and stops on every deck throughout the Sabbath. This will allow our Orthodox Jewish guests to use the elevator without having to press any buttons. Stewards are available to open the cabin doors, as the Sabbath laws do not allow to use of the electronic locks.

But the most interesting experience involved the Captain. A few hours before the beginning of the Sabbath, the Rabbi asked to meet with me. He told me about the Sabbath and explained the rules and laws that govern the activities of the Orthodox Jewish guests. One of such laws do not allow the Orthodox Jewish guests to carry anything in public, but such activities are permitted inside the house. This is associated with something that is called the “Eruv”. The “Eruv” are 4 symbolic walls, Orthodox Jews are allowed to carry items, as they would in their homes. The “Eruv” has to be clearly defined by walls, telephone poles, metal wire, or … the ship’s metal hull.

In order to claim the “Eruv” their own, the “Eruv” has to be owned, or purchased. And that is how I found myself on Friday afternoon in the office shaking hands on a “deal” with the Rabbi, selling him the Oosterdam. He made a down payment of $1 and the verbal contract required him to pay the remainder of the purchase price before Sunday morning, or forfeit the down payment.

UPDATE: On Sunday morning the remainder of the money was not paid and therefore the “contract” automatically fell through.

Arjen C. van der Loo is Oosterdam’s captain.

  • Patricia B

    Thank you for this interesting article. Nice to read something from the Oosterdam. Wold love to see some current photos of the ship and crew!

  • Tom Carten

    Hmmm… I guess we Roman Catholics should get our heads together and figure out something! 🙂

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