For observant Jews, Saturday is a holy day of rest where working, traveling, cooking and even turning on the lights are prohibited.
This Saturday, the Sabbath is a little different. With a Category 4 hurricane bearing down on Florida, an influential rabbi gave Jewish people permission to skip the holy rules for once and follow their secular peers by evacuating.
Hurricane Irma is expected to bring powerful winds and high waters to the densely populated southeast coast of Florida. Tens of thousands of Floridians loaded into cars and planes as early as Tuesday to flee the gigantic storm, which will hit the state late Saturday.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, an Ashkenazi rabbi with thousands of dedicated followers, made the call Wednesday in an interview with a follower that one of his aides filmed and posted online.
Rabbi Chaim Lipskar, who co-directs the Shul of Downtown in Miami, told Chabad.org that up to half of his community plans to weather the storm at home.
“We have gas generators, food and water; we are all set up,” the rabbi said. “We are going to hunker down and hope for the best.”