Adams, Leverett Houses Switch to Key Cards

Both Have Added 'Alternative Access' Systems For Traditionally Observant Jewish Students

Adams House and Leverett House will switch from key access to electronic key card systems this fall.

In past years, when the first-year dorms and other upperclass houses switched over to key cards, the electronic access posed a problem for traditionally observant Jewish students, who cannot use electricity on sabbath Saturdays.

"The more ancient part of the tradition is that on the sabbath, the use of fire is forbidden and electricity is sort of a form of fire," said Ethan M. Tucker '97, chair of Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel.

"Electricity is part of the electronic world that we live in during the week," Tucker said. As a result, traditionally observant Jews often seek to shun the trappings of that world on the sabbath, he said.

Both Adams and Leverett have devised systems of "alternative access" in which students that make such a special request will be entrusted with a key to be used only on Saturdays.

Only one student requested the alternative access, said Bill Long, superintendent of Adams House.

In the first-year; dorms, traditionally observant Jewish students were given the option of living in Mathews or Hurlbut which have key access.

Each year between 10 and 15 students write to Hillel to request a system of alternative access, said Tucker, who is also a Crimson editor.