US President George W. Bush addresses Congress (archives)
Photo: Reuters

US Congress quiet on Jewish New Year

Capitol building largely deserted as national lawmaking body marks Rosh Hashana; House to be on recess on Yom Kippur as well

A day after the House of Representatives defeat of a financial bailout plan that sent Wall Street into a frantic downward spiral, the Capitol building was largely deserted Tuesday as Congress marked the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.


Congressional leaders were still actively talking, trying to develop an alternate plan that Congress will approve. But the House was in recess both Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Senate will have no votes until after sundown Wednesday, the end of the holiday according to Orthodox and Conservative synagogues.


Taking off on Rosh Hashana and, a week later, the Jewish day of atonement, Yom Kippur, is a fairly recent practice.


The first Jews were not elected to the House and Senate until the 1840s, and through most of the 19th Century, Congress only met from December through the spring. Because lawmakers could not easily return home in those days, they often met on Christmas Day, December 25, according to Senate historian Donald Ritchie.


Even after the schedule changed in the 1930s, Congress generally worked from January through the middle of the year, not conflicting with the Jewish holidays.


Congress started meeting year-round in the 1960s after jet transportation enabled West Coast members to return home more easily. Shortly thereafter, fixed recesses, scheduled around religious and national holidays, became more routine.


Ritchie said that in his three decades of work in Congress, leaders have often threatened to require members to work on Christmas or other major holidays during crunch times, but it has not happened.


פרסום ראשון: 10.01.08, 09:07
 new comment
This will delete your current comment