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Lights out before Passover meal

Utilities: Planned power outage leaves some in Castaic upset about perceived insensitivity

Posted: March 29, 2010 11:27 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
Castaic resident Sandy Gedalje had planned to cook most of Monday afternoon as she prepared for her family’s first Passover meal until she received a mailer from Southern California Edison the week before.

A scheduled hour-long power outage for 560 homes including those in Gedalje’s neighborhood on Beryl Place called for an alternative plan.

She had prepared the brisket the day before. The vegetables and potatoes would have to wait until the power returned.  

The outage was scheduled to last from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. but Gedalje said her power was restored by 4:01 p.m.

Friends and family were scheduled to arrive at Gedalje’s home before 6 p.m. for the first Seder of Passover, the holiday commemorating the Israelite’s freedom from slavery.

“The holiday itself starts at sundown but the Seder actually begins an hour before and the preparation requires an oven,” said Gedalje, a member of Or Emet – A Congregation for Jewish Living. “Because the whole observance is centered around a meal, the Seder, there’s a lot of preparation that goes into the meal.”

Edison planned a one-hour outage and notified residents days in advance so the company could replace a failing structure, said Anna Frutos-Sanchez, the company’s public affairs region manager.

“It’s a planned outage. There’s nothing we can do,” Frutos-Sanchez said Monday afternoon. “It needs to be done or it could cause a major outage for a larger area.”

When Rabbi Mark Blazer found out about the outage, he called Edison. Company officials were apologetic, Blazer said, but told him there was nothing that could be done.

“I think they just didn’t understand that Passover actually starts at sundown, but the holiday meal and all the preparations are going on during the day,” Blazer said. “I think it was definitely a mistake on their side to do this.”

Frutos-Sanchez said Edison only received one prior complaint about the outage. The company has a responsibility to fix an issue as quickly as possible, she said.

“It’s never a good day for customers,” she said. “They’re only going to be impacted for one hour.”

Gedalje said she managed to work around the outage, but was mostly frustrated with Edison’s lack of foresight and sensitivity.

“Passover is not a new holiday,” she said. “It’s an inconvenience, but we will not let it stand in the way of our Seder.

“Many generations before us have dealt with far more than this,” she added, “but the story of Passover is still told year after year.”

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