Friday, May 25, 2007

What's a weekend?

When I was growing up in New York, yes, a half a century ago, "weekends" were relatively short strictly defined periods of time.

Almost everything was closed on Sundays, I think the relevant law was known as "the Sunday blue law." All that was open were restaurants and bakeries and kosher places which had special dispensations, since they were closed on Saturdays. Some of the Jewish schools had classes on Sundays, since Friday was a "short day." There were countries and possibly places in the US, where kids went to school on Saturday.

In Israel, only Saturday, Shabbat, was the day off, with Friday being a "short day." All jobs were six days a week, and my husband always worked Fridays. There was a special listing in the newspapers to indicate which drug store per city was open on Shabbat.

Things have changed all over.

In the states it's hard to tell the difference between Sunday and other days. You can do all of your big shopping on Sunday. Stores open seven days a week are the norm. In Israel most office jobs are closed on Fridays, but more and more stores are open on Shabbat. For all practical purposes, there's a two-day weekend, Friday and Saturday.

Many western immigrants still mourn their loss of Sundays. I don't. I like having Friday off to get ready for Shabbat, and if Sunday was off, then what would happen to Friday? I can't imagine squeezing the week into four days.

According to this poll, I'm an exception. Or basically, I don't think that the situation polled, "Sunday will also be a day off and commercial activities now being carried out on the Sabbath be transferred to Sunday," is a possibility. It's just not realistic. At present Israelis already spend too much over their incomes. By having a day devoted to spending, things will only get worse. And many of the commercial enterprises presently open on Shabbat will not agree to close.

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