Atonement for scheduling error

Yom Kippur starts tonight at sundown. Observant Jews will be praying, fasting and atoning. But there’s no need for non-Jews to observe the holy day. Yet a school district in Delaware has managed to offend Christians and puzzle Jews by canceling participation in a marching band contest that falls on Yom Kippur. Because three of 44 band members can’t participate, nobody can.

Every summer, school officials send out a memo telling staff the dates of the Jewish High Holy Days and asking that events, tests and term papers not be scheduled on those days. But the local rabbi “is not aware of any Jewish congregation asking the Brandywine district to stop students from participating in extracurricular activities in observance of the holy day,” reports the News Journal. So why keep the whole band at home?

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  1. Why? I’d bet because the administration was afraid one parent would complain, so it chose the path of least legal fees.

  2. I had a history teacher in high school (he passed away a few years ago) who was convinced that scheduling of exams/events on holy days was going to be the next big Supreme Court case on the first amendment in public schools.

    In my time there alone there were three incidents. First, some teachers were scheduling exams for the second day of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, which were not taken off by the school system but were by several students. Second, the football team had a few Saturday night games which some students could not make for religious reasons. Third, graduation had traditionally been held on the first Sunday in June, but when this fell on a religious holiday one year it was changed and a bunch of parents protested.

    I agree with Mr. Davis above. They wanted to avoid any possible chance they would be sued. I think my teacher may have been right: sooner or later this is going to have to be addressed. There are so many religions you can’t possibly take off holidays for every single one.

  3. Yikes! This is my old high school, and my old marching band. Things have certainly changed in 30 years. Even though the district has always been heavily Jewish, we would still have a football game if Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur fell on a Saturday. We would play without a few players (and the band would be really short — I’m very surprised that the band would only have 3 Jewish members now).

    But I don’t recall anyone getting bent out of shape about it. I never heard any of my Jewish classmates or their parents say that district schedules should be changed to accommodate the high holy days. It sounds like no one is now, either, but some administrator is so afraid at giving some offense in this way that they have created the opposite problem.

  4. Will Elliott says:

    I wonder if they cancelled because the band directors designed their marching contest drill design for the full band – not for the band minus 44 members. Depending what instruments the 44 play (or color guard aparatus they twirl) and where they marched in their regular halftime show, the directors probably couldn’t have even designed and taught a special “gentiles only” contest performance in time. This explanation seems more obvious – and less nefarious – to me.

  5. The band has 44 members in all; three are Jewish. That’s how I read the story. I assume the people who scheduled the marching band contest for Yom Kippur come from high schools with few Jewish students.

  6. I’m familiar w/the district in question. It does have a higher than average Jewish student pop. But it’s not what it was 30+ yrs. ago, Curt. My father went to PS DuPont HS (a then-local rival to Mt. Pleasant HS), and his HS class was way disproportionately Jewish (compared to the general overall pop. #s, that is).

    The area has changed considerably since. The federal desegregation order of 1978 caused an exodus to private schools (Delaware as a whole has the highest % of its students in private schools). The order has since been lifted, but there has not been any real change in public/private #s in those 8 yrs.

    IMO, the band event never should have been scheduled in the first place, as I understand from district teachers their central office is VERY touchy about scheduling anything on just about any Jewish holiday. They’re told not to give any homework, assignments, papers on any Jewish holiday. IMO, this is silly, since if school is to remain open during these holidays, why not do anything academically? Why not just close the schools those days?

  7. Well Folks,
    It’s Yom Kippur again! Why do these jews have to do this EVERY YEAR!? Like it’s some “REAL” Holiday like Christmas or Thankgiving. We know who the True Americans are , us Christians! Only our holidays should be observed. Infact, they should teach OUR beliefs in school instead of that science crap. Someone should have put Darwin under House arrest, like Galileo.That would have shut him up.
    C’mon you guys….. Imagine being told YOU had a band practice on Christmas day, or a test on Easter Sunday, instead of a WHOLE frigun week off! Hey, too bad for you I guess. I mean what is this anyway some kind of Free Society where people can worship as they please? I’m sure that was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind. Or… maybe it only matters who has the majority. I guess the religious group with the most people wins! Yaeh Team, Yeah Team, Goooo Jesus!
    Only one problem…. If Jesus had been in school in the US, He would have asked for the day off for.. you guessed it, YOM KIPUR!



    Joanne Jacobs picks up a story I heard on our local talk radio yesterday. One of the school districts here cancelled a marching band performance scheduled for Saturday because of Yom Kippur. No one seems to have complained. Joanne, who…

  2. Hube's Cube says:

    Local marching band in hot water

    I e-mailed edu-blogger Joanne Jacobs about the predicament of a local high school band: The Mt. Pleasant High School Marching Band was denied the right to go to a marching band competition yesterday … because it was the Jewish holiday…