Missing school events

February 17, 2023

Living a Jewish life involves living in accordance with cultural obligations and laws that aren’t shared by her peers. Belonging to a minority religion yields different experiences. Over the years, Mina has become accustomed to not being able to do the same activities as her peers. For example, Mina couldn’t attend last year’s prom because it was on the first night of Pesach (פסח), which is the Jewish holiday known to Americans as Passover. Because Mina was observing her faith tradition, she was unable to attend the dance. “School activities are really great to be involved in and so many amazing memories are created because of them,” Mina explains. “Having to miss out just because I’m Jewish can really stink.”

A photo of the calendar Mina’s mother sends to her and her brothers school every year with the Jewish Holy days and Holidays highlighted. Along with the calendar their mother sends a letter asking the school to not plan important events on Friday night to Saturday night. Click to expand. (Photo courtesy of Mina Koffron.)

This is not the only instance of school events being planned without regard to Jewish practice. From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday is Shabbat (שבת), a time of rest for the Jewish people. During that time, Mina does not work, go to business establishments, use electronics, etc. One issue is that many school dances and other important athletic events are held during this time, including tonight’s Winterfest Glow Crazy dance. 

“Because Jewish students are a minority, numerous things are scheduled on Jewish holy days without regard to the exclusionary aspects of it,” she explains. “If people simply looked at a calendar and went, ‘oh this day is a Jewish holy day’ and didn’t plan important things on those days, that would be greatly appreciated.” 

Mina is currently navigating one of the largest scheduling conflicts of her high school career: graduation, which is scheduled on May 26th, the Jewish holy day of Shavuot. Her family has met with representatives at the building and district level in addition to leadership at Miller Auditorium, where graduation is held, to discuss moving the date. She has also taken the issue to the student body, giving up her own lunchtime to spread awareness and share a petition with her peers.

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