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J. D. B. News Letter

January 14, 1929
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Early in 1925, a delegation from the Jewish Communities, consisting of the Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, who also represented at their request the Jewish Communities, both Orthodox and Reform, of the United States of America, Chief Rabbi Israel Levi of France, Chief Rabbi Fuerst, delegate of the Rabbinical Council of the Agudath Israel, Dr. F. Lewenstein, Chief Rabbi of Zurich, and Mr. Lucien Wolf, Secretary of the Joint Foreign Committee, put the Jewish case against the proposal for calendar reform to the meeting of the Special Committee of the League of Nations for the Study of the Reform of the Calendar.

They presented strong objections against any reform of the calendar based on the institution of black days, that is to say, days not included in the week, which would result in a severance in the continuity of the week and would consequently render mobile throughout the week from year to year the festival of the Sabbath, the observance of which would then entail considerable difficulties. At the same time, they stated, they do not oppose any other proposal for reform, and in particular have no objection to the fixing of Easter.

The Sabbath is for the Jews a divine institution and the keystone of the whole of their religion, Chief Rabbi Levi told the Committee, declaring that they were there as the spokesmen for the religious Jews of the entire world. Any measure which would have the effect of making it more difficult for them to observe this day of rest by obliging them to sacrifice their material interests to their fidelity to their convictions, he said, would touch their conscience most profoundly.

Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, said that they did not in principle oppose calendar reform so long as the immemorial institution of the week and its unbroken continuity are preserved. Proposals bearing on the era, the length of the year, the number of months, the date of the beginning of the year, or the stabilization of Easter, all these do not in any way affect the Jewish Church. But, he said, we are unalterably opposed to any measure that would bring with it an unstabilization of the Sabbath, or a constantly moving day of rest, which would spell confusion for our religious life.

Chief Rabbi Fuerst, on behalf of the Agudath Israel, said that the projected reform would imperil Jewish religious inheritance, for it would affect the observance of the Sabbath, by which the Jews testify to God, the Creator of the Universe. He proposed, however, that if the Commission for the Reform of the Calendar is of the opinion that the status quo should not be maintained, it should take into consideration a memorandum presented by the Agu- (Continued on Page 4)

dath Israel, to fix the year at 364 days, or 52 weeks and to intercalate an entire week every five or six years.

Mr. Lucien Wolf said that his body was a secular body representing every shade of Jewish opinion, and in that capacity it could bear testimony to the moral and material confusion which the proposal to introduce blank days into the calendar would produce throughout the Jewries of the world, and more particularly in Eastern Europe. In view of the present chaotic conditions in Eastern Europe. he said, no thinking man can contemplate without anxiety a measure which is calculated at once to undermine the moral anchorage of a large and stable element of the population, and to aggravate the economic difficulties of those who wish to remain true to the teachings of a sound politics. For that reason he had been instructed to express the hope that the reform of the calendar may be accomplished by the Commission without any interference with the observance of the Jewish Sabbath in accordance with the sacred teachings of the Jewish church and the immemorial custom of the Jewish people.

At the beginning of 1924, the Polish Ministry of Public Worship took steps to ascertain the views of the various denominations in the country concerning the Calendar Reform project before the League of Nations, and the Warsaw Jewish Community adopted a resolution declaring that it was opposed to any change which would involve the shifting of the days of the week, and would cause confusion regarding Sabbath Observance, which is based on religious and national tradition going back for thousands of years.

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