Stop giving homework over religious holidays


Graphic by Virginia Suardi

Shirah Lister

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot. You name it, I celebrate it, and it’s happening during the same month in autumn. You’ll probably be able to find me begging my teachers for extensions or in the attendance office, explaining why I have to miss eight days of school when it’s only September.

It has become increasingly difficult to be an observant Jew while also staying on top of school work and extracurriculars. Instead of holidays being a time of joyous celebration with family and friends, it’s become a stressful experience, and it is beginning to make some students feel like observing holidays is putting them at a disadvantage in school.

We, as students of all faiths, shouldn’t have to feel like we need to choose between observance and school. 

I can acknowledge that having every single holiday off would be a little ridiculous, but considering Wilson’s supposed value of religious freedom, I find it ironic that Jewish holidays, and non-Christian holidays in general, are being ignored by the people at the top of the food chain. It would be kind if maybe, just maybe, while I’m repenting on Yom Kippur or celebrating the new year on Rosh Hashanah, I won’t have to worry about chemistry homework or an English paper.

Is it unreasonable to ask to celebrate in peace? Is it irrational that I ask for no assignments over a holiday? You would assume the answer is no, but as it turns out, my entire public school career I’ve been extremely illogical and inflexible. Sorry I can’t move all the Jewish holidays to the weekends; I would if I could.

Is it too difficult to push back a test so that we can observe our holidays? Is it that hard to just look up the dates of religious and sacred events? Let me ask you this: can you imagine if people had to call in sick or use a vacation day on Christmas? There would be an uproar, a revolt, a boycott.

One nice, easy compromise in this situation would be to not assign homework over religious holidays, but keep in-class assignments. That way, students who aren’t celebrating the holidays are still learning, but kids who are can catch up. I know, better than most, that there are a ton of holidays and that they seem to last forever, but celebrating a holiday should be about the holiday, not about the 20 assignments you have due the next day. 

I’m also sure everyone could use a nice break from work one month into the school year, so for all you gentiles out there, you’re welcome.