Jewish Shopkeepers in Warsaw Jewish District Want to Keep Open on Saturdays: Can’t Afford to Close T
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Jewish Shopkeepers in Warsaw Jewish District Want to Keep Open on Saturdays: Can’t Afford to Close T

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The Jewish Polish-language daily, “Nasz Przeglond” reports that a group of Jewish shopkeepers in the Nalewki (corresponding to the Whitechapel Road in London) have set on foot a movement to keep their shops open on Saturdays.

An attempt to do this was made last year, but the members of the Sabbath Observance League took reprisals against Jewish shopkeepers who opened their businesses on Saturdays and Jewish holidays, smashing windows and creating disturbances.

The Jewish shopkeepers declare that they find it impossible to keep going if their shops are to be closed two days in every week, and under the Compulsory Sunday Closing Law they are forced to close on Sundays.

The shopkeepers have asked the authorities to give protection to those Jewish shops in the Nalewki which decide to keep open on Saturdays, so that they should not be victimised by the Sabbath Observance League.

The shopkeepers have in reply been assured that the police will not permit any acts of terrorism to be committed against them.

The Nalewki is now practically the only street in Warsaw where all Jewish shops are closed on Saturdays. In the other predominantly Jewish streets, the Jewish shops have been kept open on Saturdays for a long time past.

The Commission appointed recently by the Ministry of Trade to recommend measures for improving Polish trade, including representatives of the Polish and Jewish Merchants’ Organisations, was reported a few weeks ago to have decided to include in its report a recommendation to amend the law, to enable Jews who observe Saturday to keep open for several hours on Sunday.

Deputy Ignaci Jaeger, the Jewish Parliamentary representative from Lemberg, speaking at the first Conference of the Commission for reviving Polish trade held at the Ministry of Trade in March, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, M. Zarzicki, said that the Jews are engaged in a life and death struggle. The Compulsory Sunday Closing Law forces them to abstain from all activities for 2½ days in the week, but to pay taxes for the full working week, and makes it a foregone conclusion, he said, what the end of the struggle will be. Whatever measures the Government takes to save Polish trade, it must include among them, he urged, the alleviation of the hardships caused by the Compulsory Sunday Closing Law, so that Jews should be permitted to work and conduct their businesses on Sundays and Christian festivals from 7 till 10 in the morning and from 3 till 6 in the afternoon.

For years past the representatives of Polish Jewry have appealed to the Government for an alleviation of this law, which has been in force for about 12 years, pointing out that in the end it would either ruin the Jewish population or would cause a slackening of Jewish observance and religious feeling, which would inevitably be detrimental to the State by undermining the moral sense of the Jewish population.

In 1927 the Warsaw Jewish Community appealed to the Government, pointing out that for seven years past the operation of the law had shown that both from the point of view of the general interests of the State and of the individuals, the results of the law were catastrophic, injuring commerce, depriving the State of revenue, and reducing the Jewish traders to bankruptcy

and ruin. It is deplorable, the Jewish Community wrote, that this law which was to have stabilised a day of rest for the workers and to have been an expression of social justice has been made the means of doing a grave injustice to the Jewish population of Poland, which numbers three million souls.

Jewish employers and Jewish employees observe the Jewish Sabbath and counting the Jewish and Christian religious festivals the effect of the Compulsory Sunday Closing Law is that the Jewish population is compelled to be idle for 137 days in the year, a third part of the year.

There is no need, it concluded, to dwell on the importance of the Sabbath Day to Jews and Judaism. Why, keeping the Sabbath, should Jews be compelled to rest also on Sunday?

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