HomeArticlesHigh Holiday/College Class Conflicts

Dear Estelle. My mother suggested I email you with this problem and I hope I’m not too late to receive a response. I’m a college freshman, the first time away from home, and faced with problems typically solved by my mother. The most religious Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, occurs on a school day. The date of this holiday was determined by a calendar that’s over 5,000 years old and holidays fall whenever they do and not usually on weekends. I am not a religious person but I’ve never attended classes when the Jewish New Year or Yom Kippur occurred on school days. This was the norm at Cherry Creek High School. Jewish students were excused on these days and teachers knew not to schedule exams. How should I manage this?  Jenna, Miami of Ohio

Good question. This is indeed a dilemma facing Jewish students on most college campuses. However, I’ll bet that if you inform your instructors ahead of time they will be willing to set alternative dates for make-up or test taking. Some faculty may be unaware of the significance of the Jewish holidays, so a letter from your rabbi or local Hillel director may be necessary. If the faculty member refuses to honor your request, it might be necessary to meet with the department chair or dean. Advocating for your needs is one of the important skills you’ll learn in college not only in this situation but in other problematic circumstances you encounter. By the way, there’s a strong Hillel community at Miami of Ohio so you might consider attending holiday services there.

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