NEW YORK (Aug. 24)
Jewish Orthodox groups here today indicated that they will mobilize all possible strength to combat a proposed calendar reform which may be taken up at the U.N. General Assembly next month and which is causing great concern to religious Jews throughout the world. The measure has the support of 41 nations, its advocates claim.
The proposal, which would affect the Sabbath and Jewish religious life, has been submitted to the United Nations by Panama with the recommendation that it go into effect throughout the world starting in 1950. Under the provisions of this proposal the calendar year would be divided into 52 weeks with each day of the week remaining the same date on the calendar forever. This simplification of the calendar would, however, make a year of 364 days instead of the 365-day year. The extra day would be accounted for by making the day following Dec. 31 an annual year-end world holiday. It would have no date and would be followed by January 1.
A bill recommending a similar calendar reform was introduced in the U.S. Senate several months ago. The bill, which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, urges Congress to enact legislation under which the day after Saturday, Dec. 31, 1950, be designated “Worldsday” and that the world calendar should become the official calendar of the United States beginning with Sunday, Jan. 1, 1951.
Jewish religious groups in the United States, in opposing the establishment of a world calendar of 364 days, advance the argument that the elimination of the 365th day from the calendar would shift the Jewish Sabbath one day each year. “Observant Jews would certainly refuse to accept the new naming of the days which would shift their day of rest from Saturday to Friday, and a year later from Saturday to Thursday, etc., ” Dr, Jonas Simon, spokesman for the Orthodox groups declared.
Dr. Simon, in a memorandum disseminated among delegates to the United Nations and members of Congress, declares that the substitution of the present calendar by the world calendar is “an encroachment on the Sabbath” and will result in great confusion in Jewish religious life. The proposed new calendar is in many respects similar to the “commercial calendar” advocated some twenty years ago by a committee headed by George Eastman of Rochester, prominent American industrialist who heads the Eastman Kodak Co.
The Roman Catholic Church has expressed no objections to the Panamanian proposal, which has already been placed on the provisional agenda of the U.N. General Assembly. Catholic circles emphasize that although the present calendar was drawn up by Pope Gregory XIII, in 1852, Catholic leaders see no Church objection to the new reform.