New York Police Renews Drive to Enforce Sunday Law on Jewish Stores

A renewal of the New York city police effort to enforce the city’s Sunday law, which hit hardest at such Jewish enterprises as delicatessen stores and bakeries, evoked sharp criticism today from leaders of Jewish organizations.

The new crackdown began Sunday. Police canvassed residential areas and gave summonses to merchants selling some foods which cannot be sold at all or only during certain hours under the law. Butchers, who were supposed to be closed, and delicatessen stores and bakeries, which can sell cooked or prepared foods only between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. were hardest hit.

Saul Bernstein, administrator of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, said the law was “so full of inconsistencies and exceptions that any kind of enforcement is impossible and absurd.” Noting that drug stores “sell every conceivable thing without harassment” on Sundays, he asked why the police “pick on food stores.”

He added New York State should follow the example of 12 states which have amended Sunday laws to end discrimination against merchants who observe the Sabbath on a day other than Sunday. Efforts to obtain such a law in the last New York State legislative session earlier this year were unsuccessful.

Will Maslow, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said that the renewal of enforcement of the city’s “archaic” Sunday law apparently discriminated against one type of person, operators of food stores.

Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz, president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said he was “very surprised by the renewed drive.” Dr. Dan M. Potter, executive director of the Protestant Council of New York, said his organization favored a Sunday law which would provide “equal competitive ability” on the market for persons whose Sabbath is a day other than Sunday. Fines for violations are $5 for the first offense, $10 for the second and $25 for each subsequent offense.

NEXT STORY