Warsaw (May. 18)
The Catholic Press Agency, the official news agency of the Catholic Church in Poland, has issued a communique to-day denouncing the reported intention of the Government, according to certain newspapers, of modifying the Compulsory Sunday Law. 90 per cent. of the Polish population is Christian, the communique says, and is opposed to any change being made in the Law.
This communique is a weighty pronouncement, the Jewish press comments, and may be considered as decisive. In addition, the Federation of Polish Small Traders has declared itself against any modification of the present Law, and any intention which the Government may have had of modifying the Law may now be regarded as abandoned. The pressure against modification is too great. The only point, the Jewish press adds, is that while non-Jewish shopkeepers have been able till now to do business on Sundays if they wish without encountering much difficulty, because the vigilance of the authorities has been directed almost exclusively to watching the Jewish shopkeepers to see that they keep closed, will now find themselves watched just as carefully.
The Minister of the Interior is expected to issue orders now that no businesses are to be allowed to be open on Sundays without any distinction whether they belong to Jews or Christians. When the Polish traders feel the effect of this order, they may join with the Jewish shopkeepers in an effort to secure a modification of the Law.
The Government is drafting a bill for the amendment of the present Law fixing the hours of work and trading, the appeal issued by the Club of Deputies of the Jewish National Council (briefly reported in the J.T.A. Bulletin last week) says. The effect of the present law is to force us to keep from doing any work or business on Sunday, even if we close on Saturday, and the same thing on Christian festivals, even if we close on Jewish festivals. The Jewish representatives in all the Parliaments have repeatedly demanded the abolition or at least the alleviation of the law under which we Jews are compelled to keep closed on Sundays and Christian festivals, but our appeals have gone unheeded. For 12 years we Jews have been suffering under this edict; for 12 hard and bitter years, during which we have had to adapt ourselves to the new economic conditions created after the war; for 12 years Jews who do not wish to desecrate their own religious and national day of rest have had to stop work and business for two days in the week, and when there is a Christian festival, for four or more days in one week. This year, for instance, this is what happened at Passover, when Easter came the same week, and what is going to happen again at Pentecost, when whitsun comes in the same week.
The Seym Club of the Jewish National Council has again approached the Government on this matter, but things must not stop there. The entire Jewish population, and above all, the merchants and artisans must raise their voices. The Ministers who are preparing the amendments to the law, the Minister of Trade and the Minister of Labour, must hear the suffering, despairing, victimised Jewish trading and artisan masses. The Government must learn through thousands of telegrams, and tens of thousands of Jewish signatures on petitions, how terrible our economic position is, and that it is desperately vital that a first step, at least, should be taken to alleviate the distress by abolishing, or, at least, alleviating the decree which compels us to rest two days or more in the week. The Government assures us that it is seriously concerned about our catastrophic economic condition, and that it will find ways and means of helping us. The Government is even approaching foreign relief organisations on this question. Tell the Government that abolishing, or at least alleviating to some extent the oppressive Compulsory Sunday Closing Law would be the first and most effective step it could take in this direction. Do not allow the opportunity to pass. Demand your rights. Demand that this great injustice which is ruining the Jewish population, which is breaking up Jewish economic life, should be done away with. Demand the abolition of Sunday closing.