Jan. 16,2020 8 a.m. Edit: DoubleTree Hilton in Pikesville’s locks are an option for manual locks for Sabbath-observing Jews, but these are not “combination locks”.
Sabbath locks, a common feature on hotel room doors in Israel, are a new feature at the DoubleTree Hilton in Pikesville following a series of renovations by the new owners. The Pikesville hotel is the first location to be approved by Hilton Worldwide to offer Shabbat locks in the U.S. as of January.
A Sabbath lock is a combination lock on a door that works with push buttons. This alleviates both the problem of an electronic key card and carrying a key outside the hotel in an area with no eruv for Shabbat-observant travelers. Since most hotel rooms require an electronic key card, the option of a manual door key rarely exists. Some travelers deal with this by finding a non-Jewish employee to open the door, which can be awkward; others resort to leaving their hotel doors unlocked, which is a security risk.
The JT surveyed six other Baltimore and Pikesville hotels and received confirmation that manual keys are not commonly offered. “This presents a problem for the Orthodox Jewish community and other traditionally observant Jews who do not operate electronic devices in any way on the Sabbath,” said Jonathan Ehrenfeld, president of Blue Ocean, the property management company in Baltimore, which acquired DoubleTree last year.
“In order to more fully welcome these Sabbath-observant guests, we have installed mechanical ‘Sabbath locks’ that function without any electricity,” said Ehrenfeld. “Because our management’s culture is based on honoring all people through hospitality, we saw an opportunity to provide something unique to the Orthodox community in and around Baltimore.”
The advent of Sabbath locks is just one in a series of updates by Blue Ocean to welcome the Jewish community at the hotel. Other services include a retractable ballroom skylight under which a chuppah is placed for weddings, complimentary prayer books, chumashim (five books of Moses) and Torah scroll on site, built-in handwashing stations, and kosher catering by its preferred partners, according to Mark Mahoney, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Baltimore.