Canadian university reinstates High Holidays classes

TORONTO (JTA) — Under a new policy, one of Canada’s largest universities will hold classes on the Jewish holidays.

York University in Toronto, which has been the site recently of several anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents, says its new policy is aimed at helping incoming students adjust to a heavier workload.

University officials say the move is unrelated to a complaint lodged by a York professor that the practice of canceling classes on the Jewish holidays was unfair to non-Jewish students.

York was long believed to be the only public university in Canada that suspended lectures for two days on Rosh Hashanah and one day on Yom Kippur.

It began canceling classes on Jewish holidays in 1974. But history professor David Noble, who is Jewish, citing the growing diversity of the York student body, accused the university of violating Ontario’s Human Rights Code by favoring one religion over others.

The university changed its policy before the Ontario Human Rights Commission made a ruling, but Noble filed a separate complaint with the commission claiming to have suffered reprisals over the issue. A hearing on that complaint is scheduled for later this week.

 "It’s the first time Jewish students will have to miss classes on the High Holidays, but we’ll just have to make sure we can work around it with our professors," business student Matan Hazanov, president of the Jewish student group Hillel@York, told the Toronto Star.
 

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