64 American Jewish Groups Oppose U. N. Plan for Calendar Reform

A memorandum opposing the proposed plan for calendar reform, which is now under discussion at the Geneva session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, was submitted today to the United Nations on behalf of 64 national and central Jewish organizations, in the United States by the League for Safeguarding the Fixity of the Sabbath.

Speaking in the name of American Jewry, the memorandum requests the United Nations and its agencies “not to recommend any change in the calendar involving the device of a ‘blank day’, or any other device the effect of which would be to interrupt the continuity of the week and thus destroy the fixity of the Sabbath on its definite day in the week.”

In support of this request, facts and views are presented in the memorandum from which it becomes clear that the League is not opposed to calendar reform in general but only to such schemes as include a “blank day” provision with a subsequent shifting of the Sabbath to different days of the week.

The memorandum points out that if the plan for calendar reform now under consideration by the Economic and Social Council session is adopted and the calendar reform is inaugurated at the end of 1956, as suggested, then Tuesday, the 1st of January, 1957, would be called Sunday; Wednesday would be called Monday, and the other days of the week would be shifted in the same manner, so that for 52 weeks in the year 1957, Jews and other Sabbatarians all over the world would be compelled to observe their Sabbath on a so-called Thursday. New changes would be made every year.

The memorandum emphasizes that the 365th day–the last day of 1957–would not be counted among the days of the week in that year, but would be called a “blank day” or “worldsday” or by some other name. The 1st of January 1958, which, according to the present calendar, will fall on Wednesday, would, in the proposed calendar, be called Sunday. And consequently, in 1958, every Sabbath would fall throughout that year on what we now call Wednesday. Thus the Sabbath would fall on different days of the week as years go by.

SEVERE ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS FOR OBSERVANT JEWS CITED

“The introduction of such a device, “the memorandum says, “which would make the Sabbath fall in the new calendar on a different day of the week every year, will involve severe economic hardships and loss on observant professors of Jewish faith throughout the world {SPAN}###{/SPAN} weekly Sabbath on the true seventh day of the week as their ancestors {SPAN}###{/SPAN} corruptedly done for the past 3,000 years. Non-Jews who trade with Jews would not know in successive years which is the seventh day observed by the Jews.”

The memorandum argues that for the observant Jew, the “blank day, ” causing a “wandering” Sabbath, would entail a third day’s enforced rest, in years when the Sabbath does not fall on the traditional day of the week. Also, that whenever elections fall on the Sabbath, observant Jews would be prevented from recording their votes, and thus would be practically disfranchised. Also, that a Jewish child in this country who does not attend school on Saturdays and Sundays, would, owing to religious scruples, have to absent himself also on an additional day of the week.

Among the organizations opposing the proposed calendar reform are the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith, all Zionist organizations in the U.S., Hadassah, National Jewish Welfare Board, many Jewish educational institutions, all major Jewish womens’ organizations, and all Orthodox, Conservative and Reform groups in American Jewry.

A copy of the memorandum has been sent to President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles with a suggestion that the American delegates to the session at Geneva be instructed not to approve any resolution recommending adoption by the UN General Assembly of any “blank day” plan.

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