Aspen schools to recognize Jewish holidays | AspenTimes.com

Aspen schools to recognize Jewish holidays

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

The Aspen School District calendar has a new look for the 2013-14 school year in an effort to help resolve scheduling conflicts between school functions and religious holidays.

An effort spearheaded by Rabbi David Segal, of the Aspen Jewish Congregation, in cooperation with the Aspen School District, now has five days highlighted in baby blue on the district calendar to raise awareness of Jewish holidays.

For the past three years, Segal listened to parents raising concern about school events coinciding and conflicting with Jewish holidays. Those concerns almost always were followed by the same thought that the district would never change its calendar.

With the help of parents within the Aspen community, Segal put together a strategic effort and began attending school board meetings. He cultivated a relationship with the board and with John Maloy, superintendent of the Aspen School District, and the district responded.

The district made sure that the 2014 spring and fall Extended Education trips were adjusted so that they wouldn't overlap on the Jewish high holidays.

"It's important to be mindful of the important Jewish holidays," Julia Roark, assistant superintendent for the school district, said Wednesday. "We want to respect and honor those holidays. By marking some key dates on our district calendar, it helps all of us be aware of important holidays that might not be part of our own faith. The last thing we want to do is inadvertently punish a student by scheduling extracurricular activities during their important holidays."

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Several major Jewish religious observances — Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the first night of Passover — are now highlighted on the Aspen School District calendar for the next two school years.

The district made sure that the 2014 spring and fall Extended Education trips were adjusted so that they wouldn't overlap on the Jewish high holidays.

Alan and Lisa Bush have two children in the Aspen School District. They worked with Segal to help cultivate a stronger relationship with the school board and worked to raise the awareness of potential conflicts between extracurricular school activities and religious holidays.

"The goal was to accommodate as many students as possible," Lisa Bush said. "We don't want to see kids put in an awkward situation and have to miss a school event because it was a family's desire to have their child worshipping on that day."

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