Shabbat is particularly precious to Jews. In the words of Pesikta Rabbati, “Though the days of the week come as couples, the seventh day is alone. Who shall be its mate? Israel (23:6).” Jews express the sanctity of Shabbat primarily through the performance of the imperative commandments that have for centuries filled Shabbat with ritual and joy, and through the prohibition of melakhah (commonly, but inadequately, translated as “work”). Rabbi Klein's description of halakhic Shabbat observance, found on pages 78 through 94, will prove very helpful to you. The Rabbinical Assembly’s The Observant Life, pages 98 – 136 will also prove helpful. They address many of the issues concerning carrying, muqtseh, shevut, traveling, the use of fire, electric lights and automatic devices, the preparation of food, and use of electrical appliances.
Briefly, ZSRS students are expected celebrate Shabbat by not only elevating the imperative ritual commandments like candles, Kiddush, and other aspects of Oneg Shabbat, but also by refraining from some of the very activities that define our weekday lives. E.g., cooking, laundry, creating and/or extinguishing fire, writing, typing, emailing, monetary transactions & internet usage, all of which are forbidden.
The Conservative Movement has different opinions on the use of electricity and electronic devices, from full permission and limited permission to fully prohibited. For those who use electricity and any electronic devices, it should be noted that they are only be permitted for activities that are inherently permitted on Shabbat, like turning on or off lights, or reheating already cooked food.
Travel in an automobile on Shabbat is also an area for which the Conservative Movement has different approaches. For those who do travel in an automobile, this permission extends to traveling for distinctly permitted Shabbat/mitzvah purposes only, most notably synagogue services. If anyone has questions about these activities please do not hesitate to be in touch with the ZSRS Deans and Faculty.
Note, however, that much of Los Angeles, including the American Jewish University, the Pico- Robertson area and some of North Hollywood are within an eruv, where carrying on Shabbat is permitted. Given the range of views authorized by the Conservative Movement, some view driving to and from synagogue as a permissible concession to the realities of contemporary life, and others view it as forbidden. Both positions are supported by the Law Committee, although the Ziegler School encourages students to walk on Shabbat as a way of experiencing Oneg Shabbat at its fullest.
As it does with Shabbat, the Ziegler community delights in the observance of the Festivals and other Jewish holy days. Although carrying and cooking (for consumption on the Festival) are permitted on Rosh Ha-Shanah, Sukkot, Pesah and Shavuot, all other Shabbat restrictions apply. We observe Yom Tov Sheni as a sanctified Yom Tov day in every way. Ziegler students spending the year in Israel tend to follow the custom of the community they are living in. For some that means full Yom Tov Sheni observance. For others it might mean a modified public/private observance. For others that means the hag-period ends after the first day. Details of Festival observance can be found in Klein, pages 96 through 102, as well as pages 137-238 in The Observant Life.