In Israel, a new five month scholarship program being offered to young aspiring athletes – one of them could be you.
Sabbath-observing Jews who came to America found themselves at odds with the general society within which they resided. For example,
The pressure of conformity to the customs of the majority affected the Sabbath observance by Richmond Jews. The pressure of business and the attendance of Jews at private schools on Saturday were formidable obstacles to religious orthodoxy. Joseph Marx complained: “Nothing has so seriously caused us to reject our religion as the Christian policy of adopting a different Sabbath, the force of example at least, would carry Jews to the Synagogue, when Christians mass to the Churches, nay there would not be the same clashing of interests, nor a day of labour lost.” 2
The observance of Shabbos meant that Jews could not do business on Saturdays. The institution in many localities of so-called Sabbath Laws (laws forbidding certain activities on Sundays) meant that they were also forced to refrain from doing business on Sunday. “From the earliest times, American legislation has favored regulations of Sabbath observance. The courts have invariably traced the origin of Sunday laws to the Jews’ legislation for the Sabbath, but have calmly transferred the “holy time” from the seventh day of the week to the first.”
The first Sabbath Laws were instituted in 1650 in Connecticut. Other colonies followed suit. The goal was to preserve the sanctity of the day of rest. The Blue Laws (as these laws were referred to) in Connecticut included the following: “No one shall run on the Sabbath day, or walk in his garden or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting; No one shall travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave on the Sabbath day; No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath; The Sabbath shall begin at sunset on Saturday.”3
Some Jews felt no need to observe the Christian day of rest, and they opened their businesses on Sundays. As a result, they often found themselves in court.
The earliest cases arising under Sunday laws, where Jews were litigants, date from 1816. In Pennsylvania the defendant’s contention that, as a Jew who scrupulously observed his own Sabbath, he was excepted from the operation of a statute which prohibited worldly employment on Sunday, was not approved.
In 1833 Alexander Marks and another [man] were prosecuted by the Town Council of Columbia, S. C., for having kept their shop doors open on Sunday, thus violating a local statute which regulated Sunday observance. Marks contended that this statute conflicted with the United States Constitution, which guaranteed the free exercise of conscience to all, and that, being a Jew, this local ordinance was unconstitutional. The court, however, did not adopt this view of the situation and upheld Marks’ conviction on the ground that the ordinance in question was proper, for the good of society and in aid of law and order, not of religion.
Over the years, many Jews ran afoul of Sunday Laws; some for relatively minor “offenses.” In 1846, S. A. Benjamin made the mistake of selling a pair of gloves on Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina.
“A city ordinance of 1801 made it a penal offense for any person publicly to expose for sale or sell in any shop, goods, etc., on the Lord’s Day, commonly called Sunday. Benjamin was found guilty and fined. He admitted that he had sold the gloves, but declared that the law could not compel him to observe the Christian Sabbath as he was a conscientious Israelite who observed the seventh day of the week as his Sabbath. It was held, however, by the appellate court that the ordinance was constitutional, being a police regulation, and that it did not operate in such a way as to cause Benjamin to desecrate his own Sabbath.”
The problem of keeping Shabbos and working on Sunday continued well into the twentieth century. In 1943 Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman wrote:
Of the forty-eight states of the Union twenty-four, or exactly half, prohibit all work or business on Sunday. Of the remaining twenty-four, the majority grant partial exemption from Sunday laws to the observer of the seventh-day Sabbath. Three of the far Western states, California, Oregon, and Washington, and the District of Columbia, it may be incidentally remarked, have no Sunday laws. The State of New York, in which the bulk of the Jewish population of this country dwells, has a partial and very limited exemption law. It recognizes habitual observance of another day of the week as “holy time” as a valid defense against prosecution for work or labor done on Sunday. It does not protect against arrest for such labor nor does it permit traffic or business on Sunday at all.4
In recent years, some state legislatures have passed legislation guaranteeing a person the right not to have to work on his or her Sabbath. For example, Connecticut, the state that instituted the first Sunday Laws, has the following statute on its book: “No person who states that a particular day of the week is observed as his Sabbath may be required by his employer to work on such day. An employee’s refusal to work on his Sabbath shall not constitute grounds for his dismissal.“5
Even today some Jews encounter difficulties in the workplace because of their observance of Shabbos. Nonetheless, these obstacles, particularly in metropolitan areas with large Jewish populations, are nowhere near as formidable as those that presented themselves in the eighteenth, nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries.
2 Richmond’s Jewry, 1769-1976: Shabbat in Shockoe, by Myron Berman, University of Virginia Press, 1979, pages 101-102.
4 The Unfailing Light, by Bernard Drachman, The Rabbinical Council of America, New York, 1948, page 231.
5 Connecticut General Statute § 53-303e (b) (1985).
Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at email@example.com
About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
There is always a lot of confusion surrounding sensory processing disorder – mainly because there are many different diagnoses that fall under the catch-all phrase sensory processing disorder (SPD). Among them are three specific subcategories:
The doctor had warned us that even if we did everything right and followed the protocol after the follicle was of the right size, there was no guarantee of success. Fertilization still had to occur, and just like couples do not necessarily become pregnant every month, we had no way to know if we were actually expecting for two full weeks.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Jewish Press columnist Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, founder and president of Hineni, the international Torah outreach organization, recently addressed an overflowing audience at the Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine in southern California. Rebbetzin Jungreis’s address theme, “Making a Good Relationship Magical,” was apropos for the evening’s main mission: raising funds for the Irvine community’s mikveh.
You have probably been planning your marriage since you were about three. Let’s fast-forward to a big milestone– your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. (Don’t worry, you don’t look a day over twenty one!) Now, would you appreciate your husband buying you a dozen roses that some florist recommended?
As I mentioned in my earlier articles about our family trip to Israel, our night flight went pretty smooth, thanks to my children’s willingness to sleep throughout the flight. I, on the other hand, didn’t sleep a wink and I wasn’t feeling too great by the time we landed. But we were finally in Israel, and just being in the beautifully renovated Ben Gurion airport and hearing all the Hebrew around us was exciting enough.
While all the flowers that grace your Shavuos table will surely be a delight to your eye, these will be a delight for your palette as well. Create them at any level, simple or sophisticated; any way you make them they’re sure to be a sensation.
Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we attempt to answer questions sent in by people who fortunately have fake names, so they won’t be embarrassed. I don’t know how they got through school, though.
Speechless wonder is the reaction to the beautiful vision seen though the Arch of the Keshet Cave at the Adamit Park in the Galilee. One of the most amazing natural wonders in Eretz Yisrael, the Me’arat Hakeshet — also known as the Rainbow Cave or Arch Cave — can be found up against the Israel-Lebanon border just a few kilometers from Rosh Hanikra and the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea. It is situated amid the wild scenery on the cliffs of Nachal Betzet and Nachal Namer, on the Adamit Ridge.
The overwhelming majority of Jews who came to America before the Revolutionary War did not have an extensive Jewish education. One exception was Manuel Josephson (1729-1796), who was born and educated in Germany. His extensive knowledge of Judaism qualified him to serve on the beis din of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
Last month we sketched the life of Reverend Dr. Sabato Morais and discussed his spiritual leadership of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia as well as his involvement in a wide range of communal activities. Here we outline some of his many other accomplishments and describe his huge funeral.
“Sabato Morais was born on April 13, 1823 to Samuel and Bonina Morais in the northern Italian city of Leghorn (Livorno), in the grand duchy of Tuscany. Morais was the third of nine children, seven daughters and the older of the two sons. The Morais family descended from Portuguese Marranos. Morais’ mother, Bonina Wolf, was of German-Ashkenazic descent.”
In February 1861, Abraham Kohn, one of the founders of Chicago’s Congregation Kehilath Anshe Maariv and at the time the city clerk in the administration of Mayor John Wentworth, presented Abraham Lincoln with a unique American flag.
Last month we dealt with the building of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the first synagogue to be built in Maryland. This month we look at how the building became a church, then again an Orthodox Synagogue, and finally a historic site.
While it is not known precisely when Jews first settled in Baltimore, we do know that five Jewish men and their families settled there during the 1770s. However, it was not until the autumn of 1829 that Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, whose Hebrew name was Nidchei Yisroel (Dispersed of Israel), was founded. This was the only Jewish congregation in the state of Maryland at the time, and it was referred to by many as the “Stadt Shul.”
Early American Jewish history is unfortunately replete with examples of observant families who came to America and, within a relatively short period of time, not only abandoned much of their commitment to religious observance but even had the sad experience of having some of their children intermarrying and assimilating. One family that did not follow this trend was the Hays family.
For centuries Jews have believed America to be a land of freedom and financial opportunity. One such Jew was Moses Raphael Levy, who achieved tremendous financial success as an American colonial merchant.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/jews-and-the-sunday-laws/2007/12/05/
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