Religion & Beliefs

Rosh HaShana Is On A School Day

Every year as an undergraduate I sent out a flurry of emails to professors on the first day of classes. Basically as soon as I got my syllabus for a class I went back to my room and wrote an … Read More

By / August 22, 2007

Every year as an undergraduate I sent out a flurry of emails to professors on the first day of classes. Basically as soon as I got my syllabus for a class I went back to my room and wrote an email notifying the professor about the days of class I’d have to miss because of the High Holidays and Sukkot. Occasionally I got off lucky if the holidays fell mostly on weekends, but for the most part I knew I’d have to miss a few days of classes, and I developed a pretty good template for notifying my professors. The key is to give as much advance notice as possible, and to be openly accommodating, especially if you’re going to be missing class for Rosh Hashana and Sukkot. I often attend class on Sukkot, and just refrain from taking notes. Again, the key seems to be letting the professor know what’s going on. I’m including my basic letter below. Note that this year Rosh Hashana begins Wednesday night Spetember 12th and goes until Friday evening when Shabbat begins. Yom Kippur mercifully falls on Shabbat. The first yom tov of Sukkot begins on the evening of Wednesday the 26th and lasts through Friday. The second yom tov begins Wednesday night October 3rd and again lasts through Friday.

Dear Professor Know-It-All,

My name is Tamar Fox and I’m a student in your PHIL:200 Meaning of Life seminar. I’m writing because I wanted to let you know ahead of time that I’ll be absent from class on September 13th, and 27th in observance the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana and Sukkot respectively. I will be sure to get classnotes from one of my peers, and of course I will keep up with the reading. I have noticed that we have a 3 page paper due on the 27th, and I will make sure to turn that paper in to you on Tuesday the 25th. In addition, if you think I should have an appointment with you to go over anything I might have missed, or if you’d like me to complete a supplementary assignment I’d be happy to do so.

Thursday October 4th is also a Jewish holiday, but I will be attending class so as not to fall too far behind. I won’t be taking notes, in observance with the prohibitions associated with the holiday, but I will participate in discussion and will again get notes from one of my peers after the holiday.

For more information about Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and its rituals and prohibitions, please see http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday2.htm. For more information about Sukkot and its rituals, please see http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm. You may also want to consult with the Hillel Director on campus, Judah Jew, who can be reached at Judah.jew@university.edu, or 123-4567.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to our next class session.

Sincerely, Tamar Fox

I’ve never had any professor ask me to turn in any work or do anything extra as a result of this letter. In fact, being prepared and so organized right from the start has scored me a lot of points with professors in the past. It’s still stressful to have miss tons of class because of the High Holidays, but it doesn’t have to burn bridges between you and your professors.