Yom Kippur and Diwali to be school holidays starting 22-23 school year


Jack Zwirn

Yom Kippur: October 5th Diwali: October 24th

Jack Zwirn, Reviews/Opinions editor

WPS released the calendar for the 2022-2023 school year on April 11th  showing days off for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Indian/Hindu holiday of Diwali, and Juneteenth as new no-school days. This pushes back the tentative last day of school to June 20th, with an absolute cutoff on June 30th.

For years, people have been going to school committee meetings trying to spread awareness for religious holidays, in hopes of getting something in return.

“There’s a lot of responsibilities that [students] feel as young adults that are important for them to partake in with their family to prepare for evening celebrations, so they felt that by having a full day off on Diwali [and Yom Kippur], they could better fulfill their family obligations,” school committee member Gloria Miller said.

Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) is the most important holiday for the Jewish people. It is a day to ask God for forgiveness and amend one’s sins from the past year. Additionally, Diwali is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Having these two days off to observe these important holidays is a sigh of relief to those who observe them.

“In the past years [for Diwali] my siblings and I have all attended school during the day so our celebration time was limited to the evening,” sophomore Shailaja Gillet said. “Given this extra time, we will be able to go to temple, as well as participate in more lengthy poojas (offerings to the gods).”

Having no school on these holidays means that students and faculty members who observe them no longer have to worry about missing work or tests.

“I always felt it not fair that others have off for Christmas, Easter, and a half day for even the smallest holiday like Good Friday where you might not need the day off, but for us we need the day off to go to services and spend the holiday,” junior Noah Ablove said.

The original plan until recently was to have a half-day on Diwali, and a normal school day on Yom Kippur. Superintendent Christopher Chew explained the change in plans about next year’s calendar.

“Previously, students did not attend school on the days that the evening teacher conferences took place. By making those days early release days for students, we were able to move those no school days to both Yom Kippur and Diwali,” Chew said.

Students are expressing their gratitude towards the school committee, as this is a huge deal for many of them to have these holidays off in order to observe them.

“Having Yom Kippur be recognized and to be given the day off is really big and I think it would definitely make Jewish students feel seen,” sophomore Natalie Weinberg said.