Give Me a Break

All APS students get two weeks of vacation for “Winter Break,” which includes Christmas and New Year’s. Furthermore, students always have Easter off, since it falls on a Sunday. Easter and Yom Kippur hold the same level of importance within their respective religions. Christmas and Rosh Hashana also have equal significance. If Christian students do not have to miss school for the most important days of their religious year, why should Jewish students?

Many schools, both in Atlanta as well as across the country, get days off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. Paideia, Galloway, and Wesleyan in Atlanta all get time off for the High Holy Days, as do public schools in Connecticut and New York. APS is required by law to have a separation of church and state, as well as acceptance of all religions. When students are forced to choose between their education and observing their religion, it does not demonstrate the so-called “acceptance” that APS has of their students.

When students miss school for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, they are missing valuable instructional time. Speaking from personal experience, after observing 17 Rosh Hashanas and Yom Kippurs, it can be quite difficult to make up worked missed over the High Holy Days. Many times, I’ve had to chase teachers down to get missed work, and it can be difficult to make up tests and quizzes.

It is even more difficult if the student has a busy schedule. Staying after school to make up tests can force students to miss extracurricular activities. There have been numerous times that I have had to leave group members to work on and present projects due on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur.

In order to keep Jewish students from missing school, APS should include the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in their calendar, and remove other holidays. For example, instead of taking two days off of school to celebrate a man who initiated the killing of countless Native Americans, APS can provide Jewish students with the opportunity to celebrate the most important holidays of their year without needing to sacrifice their education.