Rosh Hashanah is an important holiday in the Jewish faith. However, because classes are still in session during the holiday, many students and faculty members find themselves stuck between their commitments to their religion and their commitments to their classes.
Julie Feinman, the director of Hillel in religious life, said, “As a Jew, do I wish we didn’t have school on the high holidays? Yes, I do. But, I understand the reasons behind us staying open.” According to Feinman, the Provost and the faculty have decided to create a secular calendar. In other words, classes won’t be cancelled for any religious holiday, not just for the Jewish holidays, in particular.
Student members of Hillel also voiced their opinions about the issue. Their overall consensus was that they understand why the school is doing this, but they would, at least, like to have the option to go home and celebrate with their families. One student, Nori Abramson, a senior art history major, said, “It’s not fair for those who have to choose between their faith and their classes.”
The other side to the argument lies in the fact that if one particular religious faith receives holidays off from class, it would not be fair to those of other religious faiths, who do not get time off.
According to Beth Carson of the C.W. Post registrar, the academic calendar is constructed to not only adhere to the University’s non-sectarian status but to also comply with the government’s auditing and reporting requirements. That basically means that all Long Island University campuses, including Brentwood, Brooklyn, Riverhead, and C.W. Post, start each semester on the same day and end on the same day. A non-sectarian campus means that the school will not give any time off for any religious holiday.
However, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving are considered to be national holidays, so classes will not meet during those holidays during the fall semester. Carson also expressed that, despite class schedules now conflicting with religious holidays, students and faculty may request time off to observe a religious holiday, and “staff [members] have the option of ‘floating’ holidays for religious observance.”
Despite student and faculty views that this unfair, there are things being done to alleviate the situation. Free holiday services are available during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the evenings and afternoons in the Hillwood Commons. Hillel is collecting Kosher non-perishable food for the Kosher Food Pantry until October 5th. The collection box is the blue box located in the lobby of the Interfaith Chapel.