Gov. Rockefeller announced today he has signed a bill passed by the last Legislature extending to the entire state the provisions of New York City’s Fair Sabbath Law. Under that law, businessmen who observe Saturdays as their Sabbath may keep their enterprises open on Sunday.
At the same time, the Governor said, he vetoed another measure approved by the Legislature, which would have left it to local governments to decide whether the Fair Sabbath Law should apply in their communities. Jewish organizations have pressed for Fair Sabbath legislation on a statewide basis, so as to make it possible for Orthodox, Sabbath-observing Jews to conduct their businesses on Sundays.
The New York State Court of Appeals gave this week the New York City law a much broader interpretation than heretofore accepted. Ruling on an appeal, the court decided that the Fair Sabbath Law applies not only to the so-called “family business,” where the direct owners or members of their family do the work on Sundays after closing on Saturday, but applies also in cases where an observant Jewish owner “conducts” the business but hires non-members of his immediate family to work for him.
This case concerned an Orthodox Jew, Philip Schwebel, of Brooklyn, who was arrested more than a year ago for running a lumber yard where he employed four non-family personnel on a Sunday. With the support of the American Jewish Congress, Mr. Schwebel’s attorneys argued for the broader interpretation. After being convicted in a lower court, the conviction had been reversed by the Appellate Division which, in turn, has now been upheld by the Court of Appeals.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.