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Penn State Moves to Avoid Conflict Between School Activities, Rosh Hashana

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To avoid conflict this year between academic activities and the Rosh Hashana holy days for Jewish students enrolled at the Pennsylvania State University and its Commonwealth campuses, alternate plans have been developed, it was announced by Dr. Norman M. Wall, of Pottsville, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith Regional Advisory Board and David S. Zelitch, of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Pennsylvania ADL Board’s Discriminations Committee. According to Zelitch, the Pennsylvania State University invited the ADL to assist them in developing appropriate alternate arrangements for Jewish students and that the ADL regional director, Samuel Lewis Gaber, was in communication with University officials in the spring and at a later meeting on Aug. 11 at the University Park Campus. “These consultations in which the Hillel Foundation at Penn State was involved with the ADL were intended to resolve wherever possible the conflict this year with the Rosh Hashana holy days which are observed from sundown on Sunday, September 19 to sundown on Tuesday, September 21,” Zelitch said. The university’s statement on the matter noted that “it is sensitive to the concerns of the Jewish community for the appropriate observance of holidays such as Rosh Hashana. Where conflicts resulting from these observances occur, the University has made alternative arrangements for the students affected. Students who wish to avail themselves of these alternative arrangements should contact the Office of Religious Affairs.”

Zelitch stated that the university’s statement is applicable to the entire university, but the reference to the Office of Religious Affairs obviously concerns only the University Park Campus. Consequently, Zelitch pointed out, the university has told us that the Directors of the Commonwealth campuses have been advised that: “in preparing the calendar for an academic year, the university makes every effort to avoid conflicts with religious holidays. However, conflicts are sometimes unavoidable. When they occur, efforts are made to provide alternative arrangements for the students affected. This year the Jewish New Year is observed from sundown on Sunday, Sept. 19, to sundown on Tuesday, Sept. 21. If these days fall during the orientation, advising, or registration at your campus, it is suggested that you provide alternative times for these activities for those students who wish to observe these religious holidays.” Dr. Wall and Zelitch said they were pleased by the cooperation of the university, and that Gaber will be in continuing consultation with the university to obviate conflicts in the future.

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