SJS schedules holiday in recognition of Yom Kippur


Eli Maierson

For the first year ever, there will not be school on Yom Kippur.

Eli Maierson and Bailey Maierson

For the first time in school history, SJS has scheduled a school holiday on Wednesday, Sept. 19 in recognition of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Director of Community and Inclusion Gene Batiste helped implement the new calendar with the advice of the Committee on Community, which helps the School address issues of community and diversity. Director of Spiritual Life Ned Mulligan and a subcommittee of the Chapel Committee on Community also recommended that the School observe Yom Kippur as a school holiday.

“With Yom Kippur being the Day of Atonement and with the fasting involved, I am just very proud that St. John’s has added this as an official school holiday,” Batiste said.

Batiste said he has not received any feedback after the decision was made to not have school on Yom Kippur. Still, many Jewish families have widely lauded the decision.

“I think it’s an overdue recognition of a significant religious holiday,” said senior Lauren Schwartz, leader of the Jewish Affinity Group. “It will allow us to observe this important holiday without having to worry about missing school work and makeup work.”

Sydney Hammerman, who is Jewish, said, “This change makes me feel as if my religion and my culture are being seriously recognized. This is a big move in the right direction for diversity.”

While the School has made huge strides toward inclusivity by making Yom Kippur a school holiday, Jewish students like junior Asher Moll said that more needs to be done to fully accommodate their community, stating that classes should also be cancelled on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Many students had to miss school on Monday, Sept. 10, to celebrate the first of the High Holy Holidays.

Unlike Rosh Hashanah, which is a celebration, Yom Kippur requires 24 hours of fasting and extensive time attending services. Freshman Lily Pesikoff is thankful that she will not have to worry about missing a day of school so she can have a “day of reflection without the stress of knowing that there is school going on.”

Revised on Sept. 17, 8:25 p.m.