There are religious rules prohibiting work on Shabbat and on certain Jewish holidays. Obtaining dispensation or leave can make it possible to observe such rules.
Judaism has various laws and rules that generally need to be observed on Shabbat (Sabbath) and on certain religious holidays. Especially the prohibition of working on such days can lead to conflicts of interest at school or the workplace. The worlds of work and education each have their own regulations or recommendations of how it may be possible for Jewish students or employees to observe the Shabbat and high religious holidays.
Provisions of Jewish law
The Shabbat as a day of repose begins on Friday evening at least half an hour before sunset, and ends on Saturday evening when darkness falls. Numerous rules and prohibitions are to be observed during this time. However, the strictness with which they are adhered to varies among Judaism’s different religious groups. Detailed rules exist forbidding the use of a range of objects and the performance of defined activities. Generally speaking, both work and travel are prohibited. In stricter interpretations, the prohibitions extend to the use of electrical appliances as well as to buying, selling and writing. Nor may objects be carried outside the house.
Besides Shabbat, such rules also apply on the following Jewish holidays:
- Pesach: 2 x 2 days
- Shavuot (Feast of Weeks): 2 days
- Rosh Hashanah (New Year): 2 days
- Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement): 1 day
- Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles): 2 days
- Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah): 2 days
Jewish religious holidays are determined by the Jewish calendar and their dates thus shift from one year to the next on the Gregorian calendar. Like Shabbat, they begin on the eve of the actual holiday, about one hour before sunset, and finish one hour after sunset on the last day in accordance with the calendar published by the local rabbinate.
Observance of the law through dispensation and days off
Switzerland’s educational institutions, companies and army, being non-Jewish environments, don’t usually make provisions for Shabbat as a day of repose or for Jewish religious holidays, or are simply unaware of them. Jews who want to fulfil their religious duties on such days must find mutually acceptable solutions in dialogue with institution heads, managers or the relevant authorities. Statutory provisions, regulations and guidelines exist that can provide information and orientation. Often it will possible to obtain dispensation or take time off, either as holidays or as hours to be compensated.
Questions and conflicts
It is generally advisable to seek an open dialogue with those responsible and to jointly work out solutions. In the case of questions or conflicts, the SIG is prepared to help insofar as its possibilities and expertise in the matter concerned allow.
Articles on the compatibility of religion with school and work and on dispensation during military service are also available on this website .