Open today: 10AM - 5PM

Lunch & Learn: A Historical Perspective on the Work Week (& Blue Laws)

Date(s) - Friday, December 15th
11:30 am CST - 1:00 pm CST

Jewish Museum Milwaukee


Blue laws, which were designed to enforce religious standards in America, restricted or banned businesses from opening on Sundays to promote the predominantly observed day of worship or rest. Jews were particularly affected by ‘blue laws’ that appeared in the United States as early as the 18th century because their day of rest (Shabbat) is on Saturday meaning they would not be able to open their shops for business all weekend.

Certain exemptions allowed Jews who observed Shabbat open their businesses on Sundays, but Jews who did so faced questions – was this truly about observance or just a means of monopolizing the Sunday trade? Did Orthodox rabbis use the exemption to motivate congregants to observe Shabbat? Adding fuel to the debate were civil libertarians who pointed to Sunday laws as vestiges of official religion that needed to be stamped out. Join scholar Jonathan Pollack in exploring the historical and contemporary implications of this multifaceted topic.

Jonathan Pollack has been a full-time History instructor at Madison Area Technical College since 1998, and an Honorary Fellow of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison since 2012. His research focuses on Jewish communities in the Midwest, Jews in higher education, and the interplay of Jews and African-Americans in popular culture. Jon also serves on the Ritual Committee of Beth Israel Center in Madison.


$7 per person

Offered in connection with The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, September 13 – December 31, 2017.

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