Brick schools will be closed for the Yom Kippur holiday during the 2015-16 school year, a decision made after a local rabbi asked the district last month to better accommodate Jewish students and staff members.
Schools will be closed Sept. 23, 2015, the second day of Yom Kippur, considered the holiest day of the year for adherents to Judaism. The holiday begins at sundown Sept. 22 and concludes at sundown Sept. 23. The district will also close schools on Sept. 14 for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
At the Dec. 18 school board meeting, Rabbi Robert Rubin of Temple Beth Or in Brick asked the district to consider giving students off for Yom Kippur after school was scheduled on the holiday this year for the first time in decades. Superintendent Walter Uszenski said one day off had been contractually allotted to accommodate Jewish holidays in 2014-15, and Rosh Hashanah was chosen.
To make up for the day off next school year, the district added an early-dismissal day in June, which upset one board member.
Board Vice President John Talty said he had no issue with closing schools for Yom Kippur, but said a full day of school – preferably, one not in June – should have been added.
“What concerns me is that we’re moving that full day of education to June 17, which is an early dismissal,” Talty said. “We’re giving up a whole day of education. Everybody knows that, in June, it’s not exactly the best time to be teaching our children.”
Early dismissal days in most school districts, including Brick, count as full days since they meet the minimum amount of time required by the state to be counted as a school day. Uszenski said, effectively, just lunch periods are cut out to accommodate an early dismissal, and substituting June 17 for Sept. 23 was a product of meetings with teachers and staff.
“This calendar had gone through a survey with the teachers’ union, the TWU, and others,” Uszenski said.
The board ultimately passed the calendar revision, providing for the closure on Yom Kippur and the June 17 makeup day.