MONTREAL (Nov. 19)
The Quebec Department of Education has promised that it will try work out arrangements whereby observant Jewish children will not be required to take their high school final examinations on June 10-11, a date that conflicts with the holiday of Shavuot. The matter was brought to the attention of the board by the Joint Community Relations Committee of the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith. The latter was supported by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal.
S.W. Dickson, associate deputy minister of Education of Quebec, explained in a letter to the Community Relations Committee that “difficulties which arise as a result of ‘moveable’ holy days become quite complex in a pluralistic society and from time to time there seems to be no alternative other than to invite some concessions from those immediately concerned.” He requested the Community Relations Committee to detail “the difficulties that Jewish students would encounter if examinations were scheduled on June 10-11.”
In reply to Mr. Dickson, the CJ Congress-B’nai B’rith unit noted that Jewish students are excused from attending school on religious holidays and that the scheduling of final examinations on such days “would simply mean that observant Jewish students would not be able to take them and thus be victimized for their religious principles.” Mr. Dickson wrote back, “even though scheduling increases in difficulty each year through the addition of new subjects, I am confident that the Examination Service will be able to comply with your expectations.”