Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Jewish Spokesmen Voice Further Objection to Calendar Reform

January 11, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Further opposition to the Porter resolution on Calendar Reform was expressed yesterday before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs by representatives of Jewish organizations. Rabbi Mortimer J-Cohen of Philadelphia expressed the opposition of the United Synagogue of America to any plan of calendar reform which would create a moving Sabbath.

Dr. David de Sola Pool, speaking for the Synagogue Council of America, gave expression to the unanimous opposition of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jewry to any measure of calendar reform which did not give assurance in advance that the recurrent periodicity of the Saturday Sabbath on its traditional date would not be interfered with. The Jewish community has no objection to calendar reform, provided that in the reformed calendar no days shall be lost, he said.

Dr. Pool pointed out that while Sabbath observance is difficult in a land where Sunday is the official day of rest, it is by no means impossible, and the prevalent and increasing week-end habit is making Sabbath observance more and more possible. Similarly, the inevitable increase in adoption of the five-day week as the only organic remedy for the evil of overproduction, and as the only feasible offset to the enormous increase in strain under the speeded-up conditions of modern industry, also tended to make the ob- (Continued on Page 2)

“But,” Dr. Pool continued, “our most urgent and insistent plea is urged not on grounds of utility, but because of a strong religious conviction, a conviction for which we have suffered hardships and even martyrdom during thousands of years. The sentimental and religious associations which inhere in the Sabbath day, and which are inseparable from it, and incapable of being transferred to any other day, are sentiments held sacred by untold millions from time immemorial. We Jews are rallying to a man to preserve these religious values against those who would make of life a coldly efficient, shrewdly utilitarian, mechanically perfect, but soulless machine. As all our centuried history of martyrdom eloquently proves, we Jews set religious sentiment above utility and religious loyalty higher than personal profits. It is as Jews that we demand that financial considerations shall not be allowed to dispossess religious idealism, and as American Jews we ask that this country shall not be a party to any conference or legislation which would in effect set government approval on the destruction of the integrity of conscience of a law-abiding, religiously motivated minority. The proposed refrom of the calendar would be in effect discriminatory religious legislation against Christian and Jewish Sabbatarian citizens.

“It would be an evil day for the United States were it to adopt legislation which would help break down the religious principles of any body of its citizenry. It is the Sabbath, more than any other element in Judaism, which with its recurrent weekly refining discipline. its synagogue attendance and its consecration of family life in the home, that helps maintain our Jewish citizens at a high, wholesome and law-abiding level. To destroy the possibility of this is to threaten to demoralize the Jew. No type of calendar reform can be acceptable which saps moral safeguards and undermines the religion of any group of our citizens.

“As Jews, jealous of the moral and religious traditions of Mount Sinai, of which we have been the historical guardians, we are opposed to any legislation which would weaken our moral fibre by destroying our religious loyalty, and which in its effects would strike at the root of our constitutionally safeguarded religious liberty.”

Rabbi Moses Hyamson also testified before the committee, and detailed the Biblical warrant for the unchanging and unchangeable seventh day Sabbath. Speaking in the name of the New York Board of Jewish Ministers, he painted a picture of traditional Sabbath obseravnce, and appealed for the safeguarding of the Sabbath as the poor man’s delight, of infinitely greater importance than any increased simplicity of book-keeping. He suggested three plans of calendar reform which would effect the essential improvements in the calendar without disturbing the place of the Sabbath in the week.

Recommended from JTA