Student Petitions For Mandatory Break On Jewish High Holidays

With our first official holiday break already a few months away, some students are feeling excluded from their own holiday traditions. Penn State student Phil Massey created an online petition asking the university to grant Jewish students an annual break on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the beginning of Passover. He detailed his efforts on the petition page:

“Do you go to Penn State? Would you like to spend this coming Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover with your family? Well, in order to do that, you will have to miss class because at Penn State, we have classes on the Jewish High Holidays. These include Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover. The Jewish community at Penn State University comprises 10% of the overall student population. This means that about 10% of the students will have to miss class just to celebrate their religion. As Jewish students, we should have the right to practice our religion and in order to do so, we must receive a break annually on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year), Yom Kippur, and the first two days of Passover. Please sign this petition to grant the students the right they deserve to practice their religion with their families. Thank you!”

The petition has gained 185 signatures since it was created on August 27, still a considerable distance from its 1,000 supporter goal. One supporter said that the university should grant Jewish students this time off to encourage diversity.

“As an inspiring teacher, it is important to celebrate all holidays equally. One religion cannot be more favored than another,” he said in the comments of the petition page. “We value diversity and so too should the university to honor their important holidays.”

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Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism and one of Onward State's student life editors. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia." She enjoys Broadway musicals, neck pillows, and eating cereal at night. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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