Reform Jews Call Upon State Legislatures to Adopt Fair Sabbath Laws

The Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism today urged state legislatures to adopt Fair Sabbath laws “to protect the religious liberty of persons whose convictions compel them to observe a day other than Sunday as a religious day of rest. “

Noting that several states are considering new legislation affecting compulsory Sunday closings, I. Cyrus Gordon, chairman, speaking for the Commission, declared: “We believe that the American principle of religious liberty is impaired if any person is penalized for adhering to his religious conscience, so long as he does not interfere with the rights of others or endanger the public peace or security.”

The Commission pointed out that the organizations of Reform Judaism had held consistently to the principle first enunciated in a resolution adopted by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1879. “The present hodgepodge of exemptions to the Sunday laws are completely arbitrary and nonsensical, ” the Commission stated. “The minimum requirement of simple justice is for state legislatures to take legislative action to protect the religious rights of those who, in religious conscience, hold a day other than Sunday as their day of rest. “

The statement commended to the attention of state legislatures the “milestone decision” of the three-judge district court in Massachusetts in the Crown Kosher Super Market case in May of this year, declaring the Massachusetts Sunday law arbitrary and discriminatory.

The Commission is a joint instrumentality of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, parent body of 575 Reform temples; the Central Conference of American Rabbis, association of the Reform rabbinate; and other affiliated bodies of the Union. Mr. Gordon called upon 575 Reform temples to mobilize public support and to communicate their views to governors and state legislatures in behalf of a Fair Sabbath Law.

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