Friends and neighbors, you don’t have to agree with me on everything, but I feel compelled to share my perspective. And, I will listen respectfully to yours. Today I’m thinking about the letter Alisa and I signed along with 67 other community members asking our school board not to have the 2021-22 academic year — with kids and teachers returning from the COVID-19 struggle — begin on Rosh Hoshanah. I’m also thinking about how wonderfully American it was that the Jewish community’s efforts were supported by other faith communities, including the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.
I thought our school board and administration could have given more consideration to rethink this decision. The Board contends that the Establishment Clause prohibits changing the school calendar’s start date. This argument is specious at best. We are not asking Wilsonville schools and students to observe Rosh Hashanah.
We are asking for the same common courtesy most of us give when knowing not to schedule an important business meeting, social event, or community activity on significant religious holidays, like Rosh Hoshanah, Easter, Eid-al-Adha, Diwali, or Christmas. I’m asking the Board to look at common-sense approaches such as the Eugene School Board’s recently-adopted policy on religious holidays.
I’m grateful for all the recent talks about diversity, equity, and inclusion. So, folks, now let’s do more than just talk about it in the abstract.