Rabbi Upheld in Observance of the Sabbath
Menu JTA Search

Rabbi Upheld in Observance of the Sabbath

Download PDF for this date

That students desiring to live up to the requirements of Orthodox Judaism are subjected to unconstitutional discrimination is one of the complaints against modern institutions for higher education forwarded by Rabbi Eliezer Silver, honorary president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada and chief rabbi of Cincinati, to United States governors, senators and congressmen.

In his letter Rabbi Silver points out that the curriculum of medical schools and state and city colleges necessitates frequently a violation of the Sabbath, since required courses of study, laboratory work and examinations are held on Saturday. “This practice,” Chief Rabbi Silver wrote, “compels young Jews either to forego their religious principles or to deny themselves the pursuit of medical studies.” Practically all replies received by the rabbi express warm sympathy with the orthodox viewpoint as formulated by him. Some of those whom Rabbi Silver approached were quite outspoken in their reply. Senator Huey Long stated: “Schools in Louisiana in no way interfere with the fulfillment of the religious duties of any creed.”


More to the point is the answer of Governor J. M. Futrell of Arkansas, which reads: “Any officer or administrator of any state or the United States, who discriminates against any one on account of race, color or religion, violates the Constitution of the United States and of the several states. Such men ought to be promptly removed from office and punished for any acts of discrimination, which is a violation of the Constitution.”

A valuable suggestion was offered by Senator William H. King of Utah, who said in his reply to Rabbi Silver: “It occurs to me that if some of the educational papers or some of the leading newspapers would take this matter up and challenge attention to the embarrassment such students experience by reason of methods of examination employed by such institutions of learning, a change would be made and this injustice eliminated.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund