Geneva (Jun. 9)
The Jewish case against the projected reform of the calendar by the insertion of “blank days” which would make the Sabbath a movable day in relation to the week, was explained to-day to the League of Nations Preparatory Committee for the General Transit Conference dealing with Calendar Reform which opened its session here this morning, when it received a delegation on behalf of a number of Jewish bodies, including the Chief Rabbi of France, M. Israel Levi, Chief Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz, and Rabbi Lewenstein of Zurich, representing the enlarged Jewish Committee on Calendar Reform, Rabbi Dr. Moses Hyamson, of New York (formerly of London), representing the League for the Maintenance of a Fixed Sabbath, Rabbi Pinchas Kohn, President of the Agudath Israel World Organisation, representing the Rabbinical Council of the Agudath Israel, and Mr. J. M. Rich, Secretary of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and of the Joint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association.
Mr. Maxwell, representing the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, supported the Jewish case, speaking very strongly against the proposed insertion of “blank days” which would result in disturbing the fixity of the Seventh Day Sabbath.
The Preparatory Committee at its present meeting is considering reports from the National Committees which in almost all countries are dealing with the question of calendar reform and is providing opportunities for the representatives of any organisations desiring to give information to appear before it and state their case. On the basis of these documents and information, it will prepare a general report and an agenda on Calendar Reform for the Conference which is to open here on October 26th.
JEWISH SEVENTH DAY SABBATH “AROUSING ANTAGONISTIC FEELING AGAINST JEWS BY SUCH PECULIARITIES” SAYS LEADER OF CALENDAR REFORM PROJECT
The Director of the International “Fixed Calendar” League, Mr. Moses B. Cotsworth, declared his conviction in a recent statement to the J.T.A. representative in Geneva (given in the J.T.A. Bulletin of May 28th.) that despite the opposition of Rabbis and Jewish lay leaders, the calendar reform plan, including the insertion of blank days, is going to be carried into effect, adding that in his opinion “orthodox Rabbis, by insisting upon their congregations observing the Sabbath after sunset hours on the civil Friday until the sunset time on Saturday, are alienating increasing numbers of progressive Jews from their synagogues”, and “arousing antagonistic feeling against Jews by such peculiarities which emphasise to all
The Jewish case against inserting blank days is that it would result in shifting the Sabbath day, making it fall on different days of the week each year. “Since the Sabbath is to the Jews a divine institution and the keystone of the whole of their religion, Grand Rabbi Levy has stated, any measure making it more difficult for them to observe this day of rest by obliging them to sacrifice their material interests to their fidelity to their convictions would touch their conscience most profoundly. The effect would be that every year the Jewish businessman would have to inform his clients and the banks of a change in the day on which he closed his firm. This preliminary announcement would, however, soon be forgotten and would avail nothing for occasional clients and new clients. The Jewish employer would also have to change every year the day of rest of his employees”.
“We do not in principle oppose Calendar Reform”, Chief Rabbi Dr. Hertz has declared, “so long as the immemorial institution of the Week and its unbroken continuity are preserved. Proposals bearing on the era, the length of the year the number of months, the date of the beginning of the year, or the stabilisation of Easter – all these do not in any way affect the Jewish Church. But we are unalterably opposed to any measure that would bring with it an unstabilisation of the Sabbath, or a constantly moving Day of Rest, which would spell confusion for our religious life. It would vastly increase the difficulties of Sabbath observance for the overwhelming majority of loyal Jews, and tend to undermine the Sabbath idea among the masses of our People”.
“Judaism deprived of the Sabbath is no longer Judaism, and the influence of the moral values of Judaism will be destroyed if measures are taken which will render it almost impossible for the depositories of these values to preserve their religious patrimony”, Chief Rabbi Lewenstein of Zurich said.
“If the observers of the Sabbath are to be placed in the most dangerous of economic situations because of the Reform of the Calendar with blank days, the contrary effect would be produced from that which this Reform seeks to attain, that is, simplification of economic relations and through that increase of general welfare”.