Jewish Congress Leader Testifies Against Sunday Bills in New Jersey

Rabbi S. Joshua Kohn, American Jewish Congress leader appearing today at a public hearing before the New Jersey State Assembly on bills to amend the state Sunday law, vigorously opposed any law requiring the observance of Sunday as a religious day of rest.

“We of the American Jewish Congress believe that these laws establishing religion infringe upon the religious liberty of American citizens in violation of the constitution of the United States and of a large majority of the states including New Jersey, ” he said. “As Jews we are particularly concerned because of the special hardship that these laws impose on persons who observe the seventh day of the week as their day of rest.”

Four bills have been introduced in the New Jersey State Assembly that would in various ways establish the state Sunday law. The American Jewish Congress differs with the contention that the Sunday law is a health measure rather than a religious law. “Reasons of health may require persons to abstain from work one day in seven, but there is no health reason why the day of rest must be the Christian sabbath, ” Rabbi Kohn said. “A measure designed only to insure that no one works seven days is easily drawn. Selection of Sunday marks the statute as religious and sectarian in motive and effect,” he stressed.

The American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Kohn stated, believes that the present unsatisfactory law could well be replaced by a law requiring one day of rest in seven, allowing each person to make the choice that conforms to his religious belief. “Such a law would in fact be a health measure, ” he said, “not open to criticism as an effort by the state to enforce religious doctrines or as an unfair discrimination against any religious group.

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