According to Jewish religious law, any type of work is prohibited during Shabbat and Jewish holidays. This also includes writing and carrying objects outside of the house. Out of these reasons and in order to be able to observe religious practices on these days, religious Jewish school children and students request dispensation on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.
The prohibition on working applies to the Shabbath (Saturday) and also to the following Jewish holidays:
- Pesach (Passover): 2 x 2 days
- Shavuot (Feast of Weeks): 2 days
- Rosh Hashana (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
According to the Jewish calendar, each day begins on the previous evening. On the Shabbath and the holidays, the rules must be observed on the preceding evening approximately one hour before sunset until the last day one hour after sunset. Accurate times are published by the Rabbinical authorities responsible for the area.
Protection from the Federal Court for the freedom to observe holidays and rest days
The right to observe the holidays and rest days and the associated dispensation for schoolchildren applying to school attendance are protected by the Swiss Federal Court. Its ruling of 1st April 2008 (BGE 134 I 114) required any school intending to hold examinations on a Saturday or holiday to produce an alternative solution. In reaching this decision, the Federal Court weighed the interest of the schoolchildren and their need to observe the commandment on keeping the Shabbath as a day of rest and found it more compelling than the public interest in examining all candidates together on a Saturday.