Existing Religious Accommodations Ease Holiday Stress, Wish for More

Sage Marmet ‘22 acknowledges steps taken, asks for religious history

October 14, 2019


As a Jew, I observe and miss school for two major holidays: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I really enjoy these holidays as it brings my family together and encourages reflection on the previous year. It’s challenging is to miss two days of school just ten days apart. As Jews are a small minority at Blake, classes continue as usual. While celebrating these holidays, I often spend a large chunk of these days studying and catching up on the work that I missed. As a Jew, this is extremely frustrating to have to devote my days of atonement and celebrations of the new year to remaining caught up in class. By contrast, Christians’ major holidays of Christmas and Easter always fall over a planned break.

The third major holiday on the Jewish calendar is Passover. Throughout these eight days, practicing Jews do not eat anything that rises or is otherwise leavened. Attending a school like Blake is great because the lunchroom staff works hard to make meals that are deemed “Pass- over safe” as well as provide matzah, a traditional unleavened bread, at every lunch throughout Passover. This is a nice accommodation as finding Passover safe food options can be a challenge.
At a very young age, I learned about the Holocaust, Pogroms, and the anti-Semitism that Jews have suffered from over the last two and a half thousand years in my classes at religious school. While it may seem harsh, many religious schools and synagogues value teaching about it at a young age in order to learn the correct facts and in order to understand our past and our lineage.

Much to my surprise was the limited teaching of the Holocaust at Blake. It seemed to me as though the only curriculum that involved teach- ing it or anything of Jewish history was in eighth grade, where it was centered around reading some European treaties and historical documents in Social Studies as well as reading Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night. I was surprised at the short amount of time that we spent on it. At the end of the unit we watched a documentary about the Holocaust yet we actually skipped over the parts about the concentration camps, which came as a complete surprise to me.

Blake, a self-proclaimed school with pluralistic views on religion, is a supportive environment for people of all faiths; however, there is still room for improvement of religious empathy.

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