Seattle Public Schools will begin school for the 2013-14 year on September 4, erev Rosh Hashanah. Our families must choose between the first days of school and being practicing Jews. I have been in contact with my board member, Ms. Smith-Blum, who is aware of the problem. All she could do was assure me that it would be an excused absence.
For our family, not only will our first grader and our seventh grader begin a new year, but our sixth grader, a child with Asperger’s, will enter middle school. School conflicts with Jewish holidays are difficult for any child. Missing the first two days is unreasonable and insensitive.
So often in our Jewish community we worry about the future of Judaism. We worry about intermarriage and synagogue affiliation, yet we completely ignore the roadblocks that are put before us by school and extra-curricular schedules.
As it stands, my kids won’t be attending any Rosh Hashanah services at the shul where I will be leading music. I will arrange childcare. The kids will learn that most Jewish holidays are not nearly as important as Christian ones.
Editor’s note: The school calendar is negotiated between the teachers’ union and the district. To register a complaint or offer a suggestion you may contact email@example.com.