PATERSON, NJ – City education officials’ decision to schedule a training session for 250 teachers on Yom Kippur, which is Saturday, has drawn criticism from union officials.
“Ignoring the holiest and most solemn day of the Jewish year is an affront not only to members of the Jewish faith, but to people all over,’’ said the Paterson Education Association’s newsletter. “This is simply an outrageous abuse which should not be tolerated. P.E.A. would suggest that no one attend this workshop as a sign that intolerance of any kind is not acceptable in the Paterson district.’’
This marks the second time in a week Paterson Public Public Schools has found itself caught up in controversy over holidays. On Monday, the district reversed its decision to hold school on Columbus Day after an Italian-American organization’s protests drew the attention of some radio and television news outlets.
The training originally was supposed to take place on Sat., Aug. 27, according to union and school officials. But Hurricane Irene was on its way north and official postponed the session, sending staff a letter that it would be held on October 8.
“In response, 170 teachers have confirmed their attendance,’’ said school district spokeswoman Terry Corallo. “Therefore the training will proceed.’’ For staff members who observe the religious holiday, the district will make other arrangements and provide the information in another way, Corallo said.
“Apparently trampling on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar is acceptable by holding a poll,’’ said the union’s newletter. “We have no indication that the fact that the day is Yom Kippur was ever raised.”