Geneva (Oct. 20)
The introduction of supplementary days bearing no weekday name, a necessary adjunct in practice to all perpetual calendars, roused the opposition of various religious communities and certain social organisations whose representatives were heard by the Conference, the General Conference on Communications and Transit held here under the auspices of the League of Nations says in the resolution which it has decided to transmit to the various Governments represented at the Conference.
Some delegations expressed the same view, the resolution proceeds, and most delegations were agreed that failing a strong movement of opinion in favour of a perpetual calendar, that opposition would, at least in certain countries, make it very difficult, if not impossible, to introduce the perpetual calendar.
It was suggested to the Conference, in this connection, it goes on, that if this situation continued, it would be possible to make appreciable improvements in the present calendar without introducing a perpetual calendar, by adopting a non-perpetual calendar of thirteen months without the introduction of supplementary days. That calendar would not permit, so accurately as a perpetual calendar, an exact comparison of corresponding periods in different years, but would nevertheless, in the opinion of its advocates, have the advantage of dividing up the year rationally, and allowing of an exact comparison between periods within the same year.
The Jewish opposition to the calendar reform project has been directed entirely against the introduction of the “blank day” or supplementary day, which would have the effect of interfering with the sequence of the days of the week, and creating a “floating” Sabbath, which would impose hardship on the Jewish communities in the matter of the observance of the Seventh-day Sabbath.
We have the honour to submit herewith World Jewry’s Resolutions of Protest against any modification of the Calendar by the “blank day” geature, Chief Rabbi Israel Levi of France, and Chief Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz, the President and the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Committee on Calendar Reform, wrote in submitting to the Calendar Reform Conference the resolutions of protest adopted by Jewish communities throughout the world and presented to the Conference last week by Chief Rabbi Dr. Hertz, (as reported in the J.T.A. Bulletin of the 15th. inst.).
We venture to hope, Chief Rabbi Hertz concluded, that such considered expression of opinion of the whole House of Israel, as to the untold hardship and spiritual loss which must result from the introduction of a “blank day” Calendar, will duly weigh with you in your deliberations; and that, by abandoning these proposals, you will earn the lasting gratitude of all friends of Religious Liberty.
The petition submitted to the Conference by Dr. Cyrus Adler, Mr. O. E. d’Avigdor Goldsmid, Senator van den Bergh, Mr. Ch. N. Bialik, ex-Deputy Farbstein, Lieut.-Governor Herbert H. Lehman, Professor Silvain Levi, Dr. J. L. Magnes, Signor Ravenna, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Mr. Lionel de Rothschild, Mr. Nahum Sokolov, Herr Nathan Sondheimer, Mr. Felix M. Warburg, and Herr Oscar Wassermann, as laymen representing the principal centres of Jewish population throughout the world, in order to make it clear that “the Jewish opposition to this innovation is by no means based merely on ecclesiastical grounds, nor inspired solely by Rabbinical opinion”, also emphasised that “the Jews are not by any means opposed in principle to calendar reform, and that their antagonism is confined to the so-called “blank day” project, which is an integral part of the schemes at present under consideration”.
We must unequivocally repel the allegation made by some advocates of the “blank day”, they said, that the Jewish attitude is due to the intransigeant stand taken up by some reactionary orthodox Rabbis. The opposition is shared by the whole body of Jewry. It is based upon the positive command of the Decalogue: “six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath”. The enactment of no civil power can modify for the conforming Jew the perpetual validity of this injunction, hallowed as it is not only by the circumstances of its origin, but also by countless generations of implicit observance. The “blank day” scheme, if adopted, would inevitably spell material ruin to millions of conscientious Jews throughout the world. If it is carried into execution, they concluded, a majority of the Jewish race will be given the alternatives of abandoning their ideals on the one hand, or material ruin on the other. This is indistinguishable from persecution in the worst medieval sense. It is to the League of Nations in its capacity as a bulwark against persecution, as protector of the religious rights of minorities and as guarantor of the Treaties in which those rights are safeguarded, the petition concludes, that the Jewish people looks for protection from this crushing disaster. In their name, we humbly supplicate the abandonment or modification of the Scheme at present under consideration.