NEW YORK (Jun. 17)
A Jewish organization wants New York State Moslems and other religious groups that do not observe Saturday or Sunday as their sabbath to have the right to be excused from court proceedings on their holy day. The Moslem sabbath is Friday.
In a letter to Governor Mario Cuomo, the American Jewish Congress has asked that new state legislation prohibiting a court from transacting business on Saturday — the Jewish Sabbath — in cases where any of the litigants observe that day as a holy day be broadened to cover other sabbaths as well.
Christians are already covered by a long-standing ban on Sunday proceedings. The new “Saturday Sabbath” legislation was recently signed by Cuomo.
The AJ Congress letter, signed by associate executive director Phil Baum, applauds the legislature’s “sensitivities to the religious observances of litigants,” but says that the failure to include an accommodation for the Moslem Sabbath, as well, “impermissibly advances a particular religious practice.”
AJ Congress wants Cuomo to ask the legislature to amend the bill. In addition to extending the legislation to include other than Saturday and Sunday sabbaths, the Jewish organization wants the bill expanded to include the sabbath observance of lawyers as well as litigants.