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Back to school: Jewish holidays out in Providence

(JTA) — The largest school system in Rhode Island is removing the Jewish High Holidays as vacation days after more than 30 years.

The Providence School District deleted Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur on the public school calendar, the Providence Journal reported. Absence from school on those days will be excused. The system has more than 23,000 students.

Marty Cooper, community relations director of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, said he received a dozen phone calls complaining about the change.

“This is not an act of anti-Semitism," Cooper said. "They thought long and hard about this.”

The Jewish population of Providence has been declining as other religious groups, including Muslims, have been growing, according to the newspaper. Muslims have lobbied to have their holy days included on school calendars in other U.S. communities.

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