Schools Struggle to Accommodate Full Range of Religious Diversity

February 14, 2006

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,6990334.story

On February 14, 2006 the Chicago Tribune reported, "Linda Haase Cohen moved to Skokie in large part because schools were off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. So she was not happy when her district began scheduling classes on the Jewish holidays just as her daughter entered elementary school... Officials at District 73.5, which will vote Tuesday on whether to continue a 9-year-old policy or go back to being off on the High Holidays and Good Friday, say they have been trying to respect everyone in a district of incredible diversity... Skokie is not like other places. It has long been seen as a place where Jews could be sure they were wanted. Closing schools was a big part of that... Skokie's other school districts and surrounding communities do not schedule classes on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, the dates of which vary. School board member Andrea Rosen, who has pushed for giving the holidays off in District 73.5, said there are practical reasons as well as traditional ones for reverting to the old calendar. Nearly 10 percent of the pupils and about 15 percent of teachers in the district are Jewish, she said, so if school is open it's not only a major inconvenience for many, it also costs several thousand dollars to hire substitute teachers."