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Points of View
Tilting at Windmills
My Point of View--Mar 07, 2002
© Rabbi Jack Moline

Sometimes it is important to fight a battle even though you know you will lose.

Every year, I am deluged with complaints from the parents of public school students and from employees of government and semi-public businesses about insensitivity to Jewish observance. For most people, the concern involves the High Holy Days or Pesach, but there are also issues with the other festivals and even Shabbat.

Almost uniformly, the response from schools and supervisors is apologetic. Almost uniformly, the response is understandably defensive – “we have so many different traditions to track...” Almost uniformly, the response involves a claim that if the matter had only been known earlier, the conflict could have been avoided.

Included in this bulletin is a five-year calendar of holidays and observances, beginning with this coming September. I encourage you to distribute it widely, along with a polite cover letter asking that these holidays be incorporated into the planning of your school, sports league, business or contract.

Some conflicts are unavoidable. When holidays do not conflict with classes, they certainly conflict with sports. When they do not conflict with conferences, they inevitably conflict with travel. The world cannot set aside seven days in the month of September for the benefit of a small population of Jews.

In the end, the demands of the school calendar and marketplace will create conflicts. You will again be on the phone listening to apologies, explanations and promises. This battle will be forever lost as long as Jews are a minority in the Commonwealth of Virginia. But the futility of the struggle does not release you from the attempt. Your voice is necessary to protect the accommodation of our religious practice.

And believe me, I know what it is to fight a battle even though I know I will lose. That’s why I suggest you save one copy of this calendar and post it on your own refrigerator.

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