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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 5 May 2017 05:10 PM and ends Sat 6 May 2017 06:09 PM

Traffic lights media release

בס׳ד
ל' תשרי ה' אלפים תשס"ט

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Further to recent events surrounding pedestrian traffic issues in St Kilda/Caulfield, a meeting was hosted at Caulfield Police Station by Inspector Margaret Lewis and Sergeant Tim Lamb of Victoria Police. Attendees included; Rabbi MS Kluwgant (RCV), Mr Geoffrey Zygier (JCCV), Mr Moshe Trebish (COSV), Mr Gavin Queit (CSG), and Ms Marcia Pinskier (VMC). Safety of the community was the uppermost concern for all at the table.

Inspector Lewis expressed regret and concern over the incidents and was hopeful that these would be seen as isolated occurrences and not harm in any way the long-standing congenial relationship between Victoria Police and the Victorian Jewish Community. Inspector Lewis further reported that investigations were taking place into the incidents, and that the affected members of the Jewish community would hear back from Victoria Police when the matter is resolved.

The Jewish community representatives acknowledged the relationship–building undertaken by Victoria Police in recent years, and the prompt action taken in this instance.

The COSV were requested to consult all Synagogues to ascertain which traffic lights should be considered for automation on the Sabbath and Jewish Festivals. Time-lines have been put in place to ensure an expeditious outcome.

Arrangements are being made for Jewish Cultural Education Sessions with the Traffic Management Unit based in Moorabbin. Rabbi Kluwgant and Gavin Queit were invited to participate in the sessions. It was noted that Jewish Cultural Education Sessions have been in place at Caulfield Police Station for some time.

All attendees were pleased with the direction and outcome of the meeting and look forward to a positive and speedy solution.

Please direct any queries to Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant –

President: Rabbinical Council of Victoria Inc.

BH: 8517 5684   Mob: 0418 585 856

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant                 Rabbinical Council of Victoria
Inspector Margaret Lewis                       Victoria Police
Sergeant Timothy Lamb                         Victoria Police
Mr Moshe Trebish                                  Council Orthodox Synagogues
Mr Geoffrey Zygier                               Jewish Community Council Victoria
Mr Gavin Queit                                      Community Security Group
Ms Marcia Pinskier                                Victorian Multicultural Commission
Police and Community Multicultural Advisory Committee


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See the latest press release on this matter at http://www.cosv.org.au?article=223

Posted by Moshe Trebish on 2008-11-11 04:32:12 GMT


i think the most logical way of going about this is to follow the N.Y. style and have ALL the light's men start with the green and finish in red. that will solve all the correspondence going back and forth.

Posted by Rabbi Dovid Rubinfeld on 2008-10-30 03:54:59 GMT


Would the traffic lights be automated for the whole shabat/yom tov, or only for the more obvious busy periods? The problem being that children cross outside the busy times to go to various youth groups etc and families go out in the summer months to go to playgrounds with their kids, so it would be safer to have the lights on auto all shabbat/yom tov

Posted by Chavivah on 2008-10-29 23:55:39 GMT


As they say, "the law is an ass". If the law says that we should not study Torah as has been in invoked by other regimes I think it is incumbent upon the Jewish nation to resist such laws. The civil law appears to effectively be saying we should break Jewish law. But in this case secular and Jewish law are in agreement. The law is there for the protection of everyone in society. This law seems to me in this case is very paternalistic much like seat-belt, helmets for bikes. Its to protect the individual from getting harmed. Now if I cross the road and get hit by a car in all probability the car will get damaged and the I get killed. The law is primarily there to stop me getting killed. Therefore in order to save a life Jewish law prescribes that a Jew can press the button to cross the road. If it saves one life in 20 years it was worth pressing that button. So I believe Jewish & secular law on this point are in agreement. I think the Beth Din should make a statement that no law is being broken by pressing the button. Our community should be encouraged and educated by the Beth Din to obey traffic laws that are there to protect life.

Posted by Jon Hornstein on 2008-10-29 23:41:40 GMT


All the police are doing is forcing orthodox jews to cross the road away from the lights which may be more dangerous than crossing at the lights even though the green wa;lking signal is not showing

Posted on 2008-10-29 14:16:11 GMT


Please automate: Kooyong/Inkerman & Kooyong/Balaclava; (kooyong is very hazardous to cross away from traffic lights which we must do to avoid jay walking) Balaclava/Hawthorn (see note below) Notably lights in South Africa only have "push to cross" where turn arrows exist for cars or altered traffic light patterns require pedestrians to have their own cross cycle Hawthorn/Balaclava due to trams (and tram light cycle) may be a blackspot but hard to see how pedestrians can to alter walking routes to get to Caulfield park on shabbos due to very difficult to cross roads unless walking approx 1.5 blocks away from this intersection for a safe place to cross.

Posted by David on 2008-10-29 13:15:13 GMT


Itwould be helpful if the lights at intersections in Alma Road, with Westbury, Chapel & Hotham Streets could be made automatic, so we can cross and not be concerned about being fined, when crossing these places on Shabbos & Chagim.

Posted by Esther Bartak on 2008-10-29 12:31:39 GMT


A response to the posting at 5.57 pm today. I am not a scholar of halacha and will leave the issue of dealing with conflicts between Jewish law and civil law to those better qualified. However, I would challenge the assertion in point 4, where the writer asserts quite categorically that it is "perfectly safe" to cross with a green light even if the green man is not showing. I disagree. The writer should ask him/herself why there is a red man/green man period at all when the green light is permitting traffic through the intersection in one direction. The reason is to allow traffic turning from the green light road to follow a path which is free of pedestrians. Now, while the onus is of course on a driver to take care never to hit a pedestrian, if the driver comes to an intersection and sees a green right-hand turn arrow, he may easily assume that the crossing will be free of pedestrians at that time. Certainly, drivers and pedestrians should always take care, but I would be far less confident than the writer in asserting that it is "perfectly safe" to cross just because the traffic light is green. Perhaps Victoria Police could help answer this point with statistics on pedestrian injuries/fatalities involving pedestrians who cross against the red man.

Posted by Paul Gardner on 2008-10-29 09:13:51 GMT


The PTB should ask an orthodox Rov (acceptable to everyone) if it is ok to push the button IF the button has been modified to take samples (say) every 15 seconds to see if the button has been pushed. I think this is halachacally permissable (under certain circumstances.)

Posted on 2008-10-29 07:24:41 GMT


I've had a request to have the Kooyong Rd/Balaclava Rd included in the traffic lights on cycle.

Posted by Ronnie Figdor on 2008-10-29 06:28:13 GMT


We have here a classic example of a conflict between two rights. The observant Jew is right in not wishing to desecrate the Shabbat and Chagim by pressing a button. The Victoria Police are also right in enforcing a law whose intention is to prevent traffic accidents in which pedestrians are injured or killed. Halacha generates two conflicting views. Avoidance of Shabbat desecration is important. However, Din malchuta hadin also supports the principle that the law of the land must be upheld. I do not believe that it would be in the best interests of the Jewish community that we press for a ruling that allows Jews to ignore the law. If traffic lights can be re-set to automatic on specified days, that would be a preferred solution. I do not know whether this is feasible for all lights in Jewish neighbourhoods, what the cost would be, and who would bear the cost of the conversion. There may be other solutions, one less than ideal, another technically simple but halachically unlikely. The less than ideal solution: as I understand it, the law applies to roads being crossed illegally within 20 metres of a controlled crossing. Thus, if a person wishes to cross a road and no other (non-Jewish) pedestrians are also crossing who would press the button, the observant Jew could walk 20 metres away from the intersection and cross legally. Less than ideal if the traffic is heavy, but it would get the pedestrian away from the intersection and therefore not be exposed to turning traffic. The halachically unlikely solution would be for a Beth Din to pasken that as a measure to protect life and if no other options are available, it is permissible to press the button. There are precedents for this, e.g. the use of two-way radios to protect shules on Shabbat and yom tovim. I understand that this has been regarded as acceptable, although I cannot quote any authority. Dr Paul Gardner AM pgardner@bigpond.net.au

Posted by Paul Gardner on 2008-10-29 05:43:57 GMT


I have always told my family to cross between intersections (not near any intersection or T intersection) because I have seen too many cars go through red lights and I would rather be responsible to see there are no cars coming than to trust a car to stop at a red light. Even if you do have to cross at an intersection you can walk down the road the required distance (20 metres or whatever) and cross there and go back the 20 metres. Just an alternative solution until/if the lights are automated.

Posted on 2008-10-29 05:35:21 GMT


The Road Rule 231(1) Fail to Obey Pedestrian lights is the law for walking against a red pedestrian light Sent from my BlackBerry® from Optus

Posted by Reb Meir on 2008-10-29 05:24:02 GMT


In the interim we need clarification as to what the police will do should we cross an intersection when the "do not walk" light is showing. I for 1 do not wish to have a confrontation with the police on my way or back from Shule.

Posted by MichaelG on 2008-10-29 05:18:54 GMT


Given the proliferation of shules and minyanim, and the greater spread of areas traversed by observant Jews on shabbat and yomtov, as many traffic lights as possible should be placed on automatic.

Posted by Ralph Greenberger on 2008-10-29 05:18:14 GMT


No religious law can require us to break a civil law. And what about G-d? Are we really expected to believe that with all the shocking things that occur in the world that G-d would be the slightest bit upset if we press a button on the way to praying at shule? I certainly can't believe that. I hope I am right because if G-d is upset by it then some of the other things I do must be making G-d absolutely furious.

Posted by Neville Page on 2008-10-29 05:07:11 GMT


My daughter was hit by a car on Acharon Shel Pesach as she crossed on a pedestrian crossing. The lights were not automated. The police who attended were helpful, supportive and respectful. However, the offending driver was not charged, despite my daughter needing to be taken to hospital, because she had not pressed the button. The driver behind the offending car said the pedestrian had been clearly visible on the crossing and that he knew the car would hit her if it did not stop. Button pressed or not, why is it not always a driver's responsibility to exercise care?

Posted by CEM on 2008-10-29 04:59:46 GMT


More to the point, when exactly did it become an offense to cross with a green light, but without a green man? When Greg Champion sang "Crossing at the lights when the little man is flashing - you can get arrested for that", he was *joking*. When did his joke become the law?

Posted by Z S e r o on 2008-10-29 04:03:52 GMT


A point that has not been addressed – even re those traffic lights that have been automated – is that they switch off far too early, ie, 8.30 pm.   This is even early during winter – but especially so during summer when Motzoei Shabbos can be after 9.30 pm Please have this attended to.  

Posted by SBA on 2008-10-29 03:15:27 GMT


Another question: Why indeed do the "walk" lights have to be initiated at all?? Why don't ALL lights (everywhere in the State/Australia) turn on green/"walk" for a set time, in line with the green light for cars, except, understandably, when there is priority being given to right or left turning cars via a green arrow or other special circumstances? If that question can be addressed, there is no need for special automation in East St Kilda, Caulfield, etc. I believe the simple solution is to have the "walk" sign automatically come on every time, everywhere in line with the green sign for cars. Let's take a lateral approach.

Posted by LS on 2008-10-29 03:02:40 GMT


I think the reason they were designed in this way is that when there are no pedestrians around the man stays red and then cars can turn straight away.. although cars anyway can turn legally if there is no one in sight even when the man is green...  and even when the man is red one has to check that no one is crossing...   So I think Leon has a good point - there is really not much benefit to making people press the button to get a green man.  

Posted by YDR on 2008-10-29 03:01:52 GMT