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Federal Court Hears Jewish Arguments Against Sunday Blue Laws

A special three-judge federal court hearing a suit attacking the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s recently-amended Sunday blue laws was told yesterday that compelling Jews to observe Sunday as a day of rest was the equivalent of forcing them to recognize Christianity.

Testimony to that effect was presented by Dr. Sidney B. Hoenig, Professor of History at Yeshiva University as the first opposition witness. The suit was started by Two Guys from Harrison, a discount store in Allentown, Pa. The court is made up of U.S. Circuit Judge William H. Hastle and District Judges George A. Welsh and John W. Lord, Jr.

Dr. Hoenig said that in the eighth century, church officials dominated civil authorities and forced the observance of Sunday. He said the writings of St. Augustine showed Sunday was considered by Christian scholars as a spiritual day rather than a day of rest. He also noted that for Jews Saturday is the rest day of the week.

“If a Jew is compelled to recognize Sunday as a sabbath, it would be basically forcing him to recognize the resurrection of Jesus,” Dr. Koenig testified. The suit charges that the blue laws, which were recently stiffened with higher fines, are unconstitutional, favor one religion, are arbitrary and have been enforced in a discriminatory way.

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