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HHS announces holidays off coming next school year

February 11, 2022

HHS prides itself on having a diverse student body and as they strive to increase equity, they made the groundbreaking decision to take school off on the holidays of Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Eid al- Fitr, all celebrated by minority religions. 

This past year sparked a nerve in the Jewish community as the scheduled first day of school across Minnesota happened to be on the Jewish new year of Rosh Hashanah, a major holiday for the Jewish people.

 “It puts a lot of pressure on the kids, and the kids then put the pressure on the parents, and then each family has to decide: Do you let the student go to school so they don’t miss that test or that lesson?” Kara Rosenwald, a Jewish parent with children in the Wayzata school district, said in the StarTribune. 

The outrage caused 20 school districts across Minnesota to adjust their district calendars, HHS included. This decision had many wondering why we don’t have major minority holidays off in general; especially at HHS who takes pride in its large Jewish and Muslim population. Almost all public schools in the New York City and Philadelphia metro areas have some Jewish holidays off, and many schools near Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., have the holidays marked as off days on their official calendars, so why not HHS? 

 As the board stated earlier this year calendar equity was one of their goals, Oscar Wolfe, junior, who is a student board representative, became an advocate for this change. Wolfe, a member of the Jewish community at HHS, came to the board to express the difficulties of having school during major religious holidays. 

“Every year I fall behind on those two high holidays; however the main issue was not having to make up the work, the main issue was the feeling of exclusion and the feeling that I’m missing out on something because I was Jewish,” Wolfe said. 

 On Wednesday, January 18th, 2022 the board was presented with two 2022-2023 calendars. One was the typical school calendar and one had the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Eid al-Fitr off.  

“We have to decide whether we are going to structurally honor the diversity that exists in our district or whether we are just going to keep plugging ahead,” Jen Bouchard, Hopkins School Board member, said.

After thoughtful consideration, they made the executive decision to officially have the three major holidays off. They understood the importance of these holidays and as HHS strives to make an inclusive community this progressive idea had to be executed and will hopefully influence other districts to do the same. 

Parents and students are thrilled with this decision. 

“I’m very excited and shocked, as a member of the Jewish community at Hopkins, I never thought this would happen in a Minneapolis school,” Ellie Wolpert, a parent of a HHS student said. “ This is a step forward for representation in minority religions.”

Elif Ozturk, sophomore, also feels this is a great push forward to making all communities feel welcomed and appreciated within the Hopkins schools district. 

“Not only does it encourage further equality among our students but it also creates awareness and educates students who may not celebrate these holidays,” Ozturk said.  

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