Jewish community in AHS

In Judaism, rest is not taken lightly. During Shabbat, it is required that you take it easy and refrain from any hard work. On other, more religious holidays, it is tradition to spend time with family and take a break from work. Teachers have to use one of their personal days if they want a day off for holidays and students must be formally excused. Not only do I find myself either doing my work on the holidays or spending the next week and weekend completing my assignments, but it also seems blatantly rude and unfair that Aspen High School gives Christian holidays off and does not require parents to call in. Microaggressions like these contribute to the nationwide scale of more extreme and violent antisemitism. By having only certain days off, people are taught that some holidays need the utmost attention, whereas other holidays are less of a priority I find myself spending my holidays catching up on assignments, rather than spending time with family.

I have the perspective of someone living in a big city filled with diversity, and a small town with a few minorities. Being a new resident in Aspen coming from NYC has shown me how different places in the US treat other communities. Being surrounded by little pockets of culture in such a dense city was my normal. I was used to having all holidays off whether they are Jewish holidays, Muslim holidays, Chinese holidays, etc. This should be the norm. Each of my friends have a different background and many of them, like me, are children of immigrants.

In an article from the Denver Post by Johnny Diaz, a writer for the New York Times, verbal and physical harassment, as well as some violent attacks against Jewish people have risen. “In its annual audit, the A.D.L. (Anti Defamation League) identified 2,107 anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, an increase of 12 percent from the 1,879 that were recorded in 2018,” said Diaz.

What people don’t realize is that Jews have been persecuted for thousands of years, and the Holocaust was only 75 years ago. It has not been enough time for it to be funny to make “jew jokes” and it never will. By AHS not putting attention on their Jewish community, and not taking awareness of our needs just like they do for other religions, they are just adding to the notion that it is okay to be ignorant and disregard Jews. 

Religion should not have academic consequences. I don’t see how it matters that NYC has a larger Jewish population because no religion should ever be overlooked. It is 2020, not the 1700’s, and Judaism is recognized all over the world as a major religion. Aspen needs to do better. 

In an article written in 2015 by Meredith C. Caroll in the Aspen Times, she addressed the issue of Ex Ed being scheduled to fall on Jewish Holidays. This issue is not new in AHS and Aspen as a whole. “If the school tiptoes around Christmas and Easter, the same sensitivity should be shown to the Jewish calendar. There may be fewer Jews than Christians in Aspen, but the religious observations of both should be treated with equal deference,” said Caroll. 

Athletes were allowed to be excused from Ex Ed because of sports, but students who wanted to celebrate Yom Kippur with their family were not able to be excused. Why does AHS take priority over sports rather than religious holidays? Teachers, staff, and students need to be seen and treated with fair intentions. “no Aspenites are asking for the Jewish holidays to be declared school-free, just for considerably more consideration during the major holidays,” said Caroll.