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Houston parents: School schedule neglecting Jewish holidays ‘real, real mess’

"It's just a random day. They're not doing anything for the Jewish community by giving us off that day," one parent said.

School bus. Credit: Pixabay.
School bus. Credit: Pixabay.

“It’s just a random day. They’re not doing anything for the Jewish community by giving us off that day,” one parent said. Another said, “I am going to take my kids out of school regardless because we observe the holiday.” A third “very angry” parent added, “It’s a real, real mess.”

Jewish parents told the Houston Chronicle that the 2024-25 calendar proposed by the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the state’s largest school district, exhibited poor understanding of Jewish holidays.

“Many of the city’s Jewish parents are in an uproar over HISD’s failure to understand how and when their community’s High Holy days are observed,” the paper reported.

The district, under its new superintendent Mike Miles, first released the proposed calendar several weeks ago, which parents considered a “polite gesture” at first, per the Chronicle. “But the city’s Jewish parents soon realized Miles’ new leadership had failed to incorporate Jewish High Holy Days holidays in both proposed academic calendars, including Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.”

An Oct. 11 “fall holiday” aligning with Yom Kippur falls on a Friday, although the High Holiday doesn’t begin until sundown.

“So there’s no real reason to keep their children home during the school day,” according to the paper. “In fact, many families prefer keeping their children in school during the daytime so they can better prepare feasts to break the traditional fast.”

As many as 4,000 responses have already been recorded concerning the schedule. The school schedule would apply to some 200,000 students and 27,000 employees.

Some 65,000 Jews live in Houston, “many of whom enroll their children in private and public schools within HISD’s coverage area,” the Chronicle reported, citing the Jewish Foundation of Greater Houston.

A recent bid in Stamford Public Schools, in Connecticut, to downgrade Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday, and the second day of Rosh Hashanah as official school holidays failed in a board vote.

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