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Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.-Editor.]

That the question of a five-day working week, which has recently come to the fore in the American press, has a special significance to the Jews and that the Jewish unions are in a better position than any other part of the American labor movement to take the first steps toward the realization of this ideal, is the belief of Dr. K. Fornberg, who writes in the “Day” of Oct. 20.

“The problem of a five-day working week is an old and painful problem with us Jews. On the one hand,” writes Dr. Fornberg, “the orthodox Jews have been nursing this ideal of a five-day working week not so much from the standpoint of general socialist communist motives, as from purely Jewish-religious motives: in the Christian countries with drastic Sunday rest laws on the one hand and the mixed economic life on the other, the five-day working week becomes a fundamental issue for observant Jews. It presents practically the only possibility to save the Sabbath which is one of the foundations of Judaism. But in this form it is a problem related more to trade than industry, more to businessmen than to workers. At any rate, in this form it is not a labor problem.

“But for quite another reason, a purely economic one, the five-day working week question should become especially burning among the Jewish workers. For the following reason: every keen observer has noticed how the shortening of the working week has become a cornerstone of Jewish unionism. In this respect the Jewish unions have greatly anticipated those in other general, important industries. And at present the shortening of the working week has its place in the bitter struggle going on in the women’s garment industry.”

The real causes for the special importance of this problem among the Jewish workers is explained thus: “The distressing need and the desperate condition of great Jewish labor masses in the seasonal industries, where the season has a tendency to constantly become shorter, compel the workers and their leaders to seek to spread their earnings over as many more days as possible.

“In these ‘Jewish’ seasonal industries the five-day working week could and should become a strong demand. And it seems to us that if the unions in these trades were to buttress their fundamental demand for a shorter working week by giving it the form of a demand for a five-day working week, their demand for a shorter working week would have so much more chance of being realized: in the first place, the wide, socially-influential middle-class orthodox elements would support such a demand; and secondly, the manufacturers themselves, a large number of whom are more or less religiously inclined, would find themselves unable to be so uncompromising in fighting a demand which appeals to their Jewish conscience…”

H. L. Meites and Sons, Chicago, Illinois, announce the forthcoming publication of “Theodor Herzl, a Biographical Study” by Jacob de Haas.

The work will be published in two volumes illustrated with original photographs and facsimiles of Herzl’s correspondence and will be issued in the Spring.

The “biographical study” which is complete in itself, is designed to be the forerunner of a series of volumes dealing with all of Herzl’s writings and addresses, the publishers state.

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