Thanksgiving Break is here, but can ASD say the same about holiday equality?

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Photo by Aja Schiller

St Mary’s Catholic Church located next to Main Street.

Winter Break is always time for celebration, family time, a period to de-stress from school, and of course, Christmas festivities. But the students at AHS who celebrate Jewish holidays aren’t as lucky and only get optional time off for their major holidays. Meanwhile, students and faculty are given a week off for Thanksgiving, which is a feast to celebrate religious freedom along with the erasure of a bloody history between Native Americans and European settlers that years of glorification have buried.

The two major Jewish holidays are Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, commonly referred to as the High Holy days. Students are allowed time off during religious holidays, but faculty members have to take a personal day and are not offered a break for their religious holidays. Students are also exempt from the absence policy on the days they are out for religious reason, but school still is in session, which causes students to miss class and potentially fall behind for the day missed.

Tharyn Mulberry, AHS Principal, thinks that the scheduling is a little coincidental, and the school is doing it’s best to make it fair for students of all religions by excusing them from classes.

“The argument is that if you look at the Jewish Christian holidays, typically we’re off during those days,” Mulberry said. “Like Christmas and Easter, typically we’re off. What I’m trying to say is that our schedule is preferential to other religious holidays.”

Jewish holidays frequently go unrecognized, meanwhile, the Aspen School District gives students a week off for Thanksgiving, when it’s a holiday that’s celebrated for all the wrong reasons.

The story of Thanksgiving is well known: Native Americans welcomed the pilgrims when they landed at Cape Cod, and they lived in harmony for years, but people often forget that once Westward Expansion started, Native Americans were brutally slaughtered after being stripped of their basic human rights. Thanksgiving is recognized as a national holiday, so a break from school is mandatory, but a full week away from classes is a little excessive, especially when Jewish holidays can’t even get a day.

ASD isn’t completely to blame for the bias in school breaks. Schools all over the country fail to acknowledge their students who have to take time out of school for their religious holidays, which creates make-up work and stress.

Jewish holidays are just as important as other holidays celebrated throughout the year but don’t get as much recognition throughout the school system, whereas a controversial and contentious holiday is allowed a full week off. AHS needs to step up and acknowledge the bias in the ASD that is seen throughout the country.

Although most breaks and time off cannot be changed, ASD could allow a day or so off when a religious holiday falls on a school week and students and staff are otherwise forced to take a day off.