Outrage Grows over Proposal to Begin Holding Classes at UB on Jewish Holidays

April 23, 2013 Updated Apr 23, 2013 at 6:52 PM EDT

By Hilary Lane

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April 23, 2013 Updated Apr 23, 2013 at 6:52 PM EDT


Some students at the University of Buffalo, as well as members of the local Jewish community, are angry over a proposal to begin holding classes on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, the two holiest days in the Jewish religion.

"University of Buffalo told us when I was a perspective student that they accommodate Jewish students by giving them these two days off," said Jonathan Grunin, student at UB. "Other universities I went to didn't have these accommodations and that is why I chose UB. "

"For these two days in particular, we are commanded to spend the entire day in the synagogue, " said Rabbi Gary Pokrus, Temple Beth Zion. "There is no other place we can be. We can't be doing work."

The university's Faculty Senate Executive Committee voted earlier this month in support of a resolution to hold classes on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

A few of the reasons why include other colleges including many SUNY schools do not cancel classes on Jewish holidays, UB must be careful not to favor one religion over another, and partial weeks of instruction are disruptive.

School officials will be looking at comments, questions, and concerns posted on http://www.buffalo.edu/ubreporter/campus/campus-host-page.host.html/content/shared/university/news/ub-reporter-articles/stories/2013/calendar_changes.detail.html until Thursday.

University of Buffalo representatives say this is simply a proposal. A final decision on whether or not to hold classes on the two Jewish holidays is expected to be made by the University President in the upcoming months.