Editorial: OPRF should take off school for the Jewish high holidays

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Editorial: OPRF should take off school for the Jewish high holidays

Seth Engle, Editor-in-Chief

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After a school year which featured various hate crimes leading to the creation of a new equity policy, and concluded with the resignation of Principal Nathaniel Rouse and hiring of racial equity director Levar Ammons, the 2019-2020 school year feels like a year of reflection as OPRF gazes toward progressing as a community.

The new policy, approved on April 26, states that “equity must be applied across, including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, national origin, foster status, involvement with the juvenile justice system, IEP status, disability, learning difference, immigration status, or language.”

By revising their failed equity policy and hiring an equity director, the School Board is moving in the right direction toward achieving equity. However, some minority groups are being left out, specifically the Jewish community.

The fall season is always home to the two holiest days in the Jewish calendar: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. While Rosh Hashanah is a day of celebration as the Jewish community welcomes in the new Jewish year, Yom Kippur is a day of complete reflection, when most Jewish people attend services from sun up to sun down and all over the age of 13 are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, and working for a full 24 hours.

On days of such importance, when there are almost no Jewish people in the building, it makes absolutely no sense why school should be scheduled. 

For any high school student, missing one day of school can be a hassle. On top of outside-of-school activities such as sports or other extra curriculars, homework can pile up in just one day missed. Add in class tests and projects on top of homework and extracurriculars and it seems as if the world is suddenly collapsing.

As a Jewish student, missing a day on Yom Kippur is even worse. Being unable to eat or drink makes it nearly impossible to do any type of homework, especially because the act of working is prohibited.

To make matters worse, Jewish students are not the only people who OPRF is doing a disservice having school on the Jewish high holidays. Last school year, the first quarter marking period ended on Yom Kippur, making it difficult for Jewish teachers to scramble together last minute grades before the deadline.

Seeing the OPRF Board make strides to further the school community’s overall equity is fantastic. However, keeping school open on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiest days of the Jewish calendar, shows no respect for the Jewish community of OPRF and proves that there is still much more work to be done in order for this school to reach its destined equity.