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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Muslim Groups Want Jewish Holidays Removed From Calendar

This is a tough call:
Muslim group protests school calendar
A Muslim group is reportedly demanding that a school system in Maryland remove Jewish holidays from its calendar.

The Towson Times reported that The Baltimore County Muslim Council battled the Baltimore County school system for three years over adding two Islamic holy days, Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha, to its calendar, which would make them vacation days.

When the request was not submitted to a vote, the Muslim council demanded that the Jewish holidays on the calendar be dropped, calling it an issue of equity, said the Times.

The move “is an attempt to wage de-facto warfare between Muslims and Jews” in the county, said Arthur Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

The Times quoted him as adding that the decision to have Jewish holidays adopted as vacation days was economic, since it is too costly to hire substitutes for all the observant Jewish teachers.


I don't think that removing Jewish holidays from the calendar in retribution is the answer here, especially since, as the article points out, the decision to give off on Jewish holidays was an economic one. However, I can completely understand the feelings of anger on the part of the Muslim community for this apparent lack of equitable treatment.

Though I can see that it could be problematic for the school district to start a precedent of giving vacation on every holiday that might be celebrated by any religious denomination, I know that if the tables were turned, and Muslim holidays were on the calendar to the exclusion of Jewish holidays, I don't doubt that there would be a huge outcry from the Jewish community.

(Details here)

18 Comments:

Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>I can completely understand the feelings of anger on the part of the Muslim community for this apparent lack of equitable treatment.

So can I.

However, screw them. They don't like us and I don't like them.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Let me rephrase that.

Jews have been here since 1650. Jews have given blood, sweat and tears for America. We didn't try to get them to stop recognizing Christmas to make them recognize Yom Kippur. The US didn't recognize Jewish holdidays by force or pressure or fiat by Jews, but in recognition of them.

Let American Muslims give their blood, sweat and tears to the US and the US will recognize them and recognize their holidays as something to mark.

Why do Jews always have to become part of the conversation? If they want to learn from us, they can learn from our participation and commitment to the United States, rather than the fact that our holidays made it to some calendars.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Let me rephrase that.

Jews have been here since 1650. Jews have given blood, sweat and tears for America. We didn't try to get them to stop recognizing Christmas to make them recognize Yom Kippur. The US didn't recognize Jewish holdidays by force or pressure or fiat by Jews, but in recognition of them.

Let American Muslims give their blood, sweat and tears to the US and the US will recognize them and recognize their holidays as something to mark.

Why do Jews always have to become part of the conversation? If they want to learn from us, they can learn from our participation and commitment to the United States, rather than the fact that our holidays made it to some calendars.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

Why not handle this the way an office or business might?

Make a policy that certain days, including specific Jewish holidays, Muslim holidays, Christian holidays, Hindu holidays, etc., may be taken off by employees or students without penalty up to a certain number.

Ask students and staff to specify at the beginning of the year which holidays they plan to take off. If the number of students planning to attend falls below a certain percentage *or* the number of teachers planning to work falls below a certain percentage, the schools will close.

The school could still schedule a winter break around Christmas/New Year's, and the issue would become a simple one of demographics rather than fairness. And if the percentage of Hindu students or teachers suddenly swells, the schools can act on actual numbers.

One note: I am suggesting that teachers and students simply indicate at the beginning of the year what approved holidays they plan to take off, not identify themselves religiously. It doesn't really matter if someone decides to take off Rosh Hashannah, Id al-Fitr, and St. Patrick's Day.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Izzy said...

Of course, the best answer would be that there should be NO religious holidays in public schools.

Students should be allowed a certain number of "holiday" days, whereof they may "use" to celebrate their holidays. Students who use more than that should be charged with "absent" for those additional days. Students who use less might get some benefit (I haven't thought this through, but maybe some extra time off).

Students who intend to use "holiday" days should be required to provide a calendar to the school at the beginning of each school year that indicates which days the student will be absent. Then, the school administrators can determine class and teacher scheduling on those days.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous bsci said...

This is really a non-issue. I'm fairly sure every public institution allows both student and teachers to take off religous holidays without penality. The fight is about days where the whole school shuts down for a religous holiday (i.e. Christmas).

In most of the country schools don't shut down for Jewish holidays, but in district where 1/5 of the teachers and students will be gone due to a religous holiday, it becomes a bigger hassle to keep school running than to shut it down. I'm sure that if there are districts in the country with a sizable muslim population attending or teaching at public schools, the districts either do shut down or are considering it.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'd have absolutely no problem with a public school closing for a Muslim holiday if they showed that a certain percentage of teachers or students would be out that day.

Conversely, I don't hold it against a school system if they stay open on Yom Kippur, if there are only a handful of Jewish kids there (though I'd want the kids to be able to take off with no penalty).

It all comes down to demographics. At Barnard, I wrote an article in the college newspaper about this, saying basically that at, say, the University of Arkansas, there is no reason to give off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But at Barnard/Columbia, where the fact that they hold classes WREAKS HAVOC for EVERYONE, students and faculty alike, it's just ridiculous to hold classes just so they can be "equitable." Population realities are population realities.

That's why I didn't complain when companies closed down for Christmas. It may be uncomfortable for me, but it's best for the "team."

6:22 PM  
Blogger AnySara said...

Not every public institution is so progressive. I imagine that by now they've changed their policy, but when I taught in Greensboro, NC, the local school district allowed students to have up to 12 absences per year - any more and the student wouldn't pass that grade. Imagine a year when all the yamim tovim fall on weekdays... It was a problem for some of the Conservative kids who were actually observant there.

On the other hand, the school district in Ann Arbor, MI, has a progressive policy in which they have all the religious holidays on the calendar and label them with a system to show whether or not they are "off-school" holidays. A five star holiday means "off-school" - i.e. all the Yom Tov days are five star holidays. Chanukah, which nobody reasonably takes off for, has a lower star rating. They have done this for religions and holidays I've never even heard of. And people in the frum community continue to bash liberals... silly. ;)

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hamas Militants Storm Palestinian TV Facility


the nutjobs are out of control

2:23 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

Nope. TBSS, STBY... Too Sad, So Sad, S(tinks) To Be You.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

The Times quoted him as adding that the decision to have Jewish holidays adopted as vacation days was economic, since it is too costly to hire substitutes for all the observant Jewish teachers.

That may have been valid 40 or 50 years ago, but is it still valid today?

Which means the best policy is to set an objective threshold of teacher and student populations that would apply to any religious group, and review the population numbers on a regular basis.

If the percentage of Jewish teachers and/or students is declining, then it may well be appropriate to not have these days for official holidays.

Anyway, why should anyone care about what a public school system does, after all, aren't day schools/yeshivas the only place where Jewish kids should be educated?

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muslims are always whining about something when they don't get their way. So in other words the muslims want their holiday on the calender, but the jewish holiday dropped? If the jewish can't have theirs on the calender, then why should the muslims be allowed to have their holiday reconized?

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like a bunch of people here are against Muslims and afraid to just flat out say it.

They only want the Jewish holidays dropped since there's are not allowed to be added, even though the United States, and the planet earth has far more Muslims than it does Jews.

3:01 PM  
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