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Demand for Modification of Sunday Closing Law in Poland Made by Agudah

The Agudath Israel Central Council has adopted a resolution at its meeting now being held here, calling upon the Government to modify the Compulsory Sunday Observance Law, which is causing a great deal of economic hardship to the Jewish population.

Another resolution appeals to the Government not to add fresh burdens of taxation to the town population at this time of crisis, and to grant subsidies to the Jewish cultural and philanthropic institutions.

There has been talk in Poland repeatedly of a possible revision of the Compulsory Sunday Closing Law, which compels Jewish shopkeepers and artisans to suspend their work for two days in the week. It has been suggested that those Jews who keep their shops and workshops closed on Saturdays might be permitted to open them for a few hours at stated times on Sundays. Mr. Dewey, the American Adviser to the Polish Government, was reported in 1929 to have taken occasion in one of his reports to direct the attention of the Government to the inadvisability of compelling the greater part of the merchants and artisans in the country, because they are Jews, to suspend work for two days in the week.

Not only the antisemitic parties, but also the Polish Socialist Party, has declared itself opposed to the modification, on the ground that it would adversely affect the labour conditions of the workers.

The Polish-Jewish Agreement concluded in 1925 between the Government and the Jewish Club of Deputies, contained among its pledges to the Jewish population one dealing with the question of the Compulsory Sunday Closing Law, which appeared as the very first point in the Agreement, under the heading of the economic facilities promised by the Government.

On the basis of the conferences held, the text said, the Government pledges itself in the economic field:

(1) In the matter of Sunday rest to issue Ordinances (a) extending for Jews who observe the Sabbath their period of work in open shops by three hours beyond the normal; (b) confirming the already existing circular, which is, however, not being observed by the lower authorities, according to which artisans working without hired assistance in closed workshops have the right to work on Sunday. (Against these two points there is a marginal note by M. Grabski, the then Premier, – “in the autumn”); (c) to introduce a bill which abolishes or at least modifies the Compulsory Sunday Observance Law. (Marginal note – “if the Left Parties agree”).

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