An Upcoming Supreme Court Case Could Make It Easier for Americans to Keep Shabbat

The Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear the case of Groff v. DeJoy, regarding a postal worker who wishes to avoid Sunday shifts because of his observance of the Christian Sabbath. Michael A. Helfand explains:

Employers’ obligation to accommodate employees’ religious practice derives from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Because the original text of Title VII provided limited guidance in terms of what kind of protections it afforded employees from religious discrimination, Congress subsequently amended Title VII in order to make clear that employers [must] “reasonably accommodate” an employee’s “religious observance or practice” unless, and here is the kicker, providing an accommodation would present an “undue hardship.”

In the similar 1977 case of TWA v. Hardison, the court ruled that any additional cost to an employer would constitute such an undue hardship. Helfand hopes the current court will take the opportunity to reconsider this narrow interpretation:

Among the problems with [the] prevailing standard is that those left most exposed by the court’s stingy interpretation of Title VII have been religious minorities, whose practices often don’t track the prevailing rhythms of the workplace. According to one brief filed before the Supreme Court in 2020, nearly half of Title VII accommodation appeals are filed by religious minorities, even though those minorities only account for 15 percent of the population.

Unsurprisingly, American Jews have been at the forefront of attempts to enhance the protections afforded religious employees in the workplace, as diluting employers’ obligation to accommodate religious practices in the workplace continues to present a significant obstacle to Shabbat observance. Already back in 1977, a broad coalition of Jewish organizations filed amicus briefs before the Supreme Court supporting the plaintiff in Hardison. . . . In subsequent decades, a diverse range of Jewish organizations have supported the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, an ultimately unsuccessful attempt since 1999 to expand the religious-accommodation protections afforded employees in the workplace.

Read more at Forward

More about: American law, Freedom of Religion, Sabbath, Supreme Court

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7