OPHS has some days off of school, but for what reason?

Oak Park students and staff must recognize local holidays

OPHS students and staff enjoy time off of school no matter the occasion. However, not everybody knows the reason for this time off from school.

On Monday, Sept. 26, there was no school in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holiday that represents the start of the Jewish New Year. In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah is a holy day, marking the creation of the world. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, there was another day off of school for Yom Kippur, another Jewish holiday. During Yom Kippur, people who practice Judaism pray and fast to atone and repent for sins committed in the previous year.  

On Friday, Oct. 21 and Monday, Oct. 24, there were minimum school days in light of the celebration of Diwali. The religions of Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism all celebrate this momentous holiday known as The Festival of Lights, where light overcomes darkness.

Starting on the evening of Dec. 18, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins. As celebrations continue through Dec. 26, people who celebrate this holiday are able to celebrate during winter break. Hanukkah is dependent on the Hebrew calendar; therefore, Hanukkah does not always fall on OPHS’s winter break.

We believe that OPHS can be more progressive in recognizing these holidays as an essential part of the lives of some students and staff; oftentimes, they have often been recognized by nothing more than a name on a calendar. For example, a statement on the morning announcements or a post on the school bulletin explaining the meaning of a holiday would help to spread awareness and recognition of local holidays throughout OPHS.

 By locally spreading awareness of these holidays prior to their occurrence, community members and OPHS students and staff can support one another and appreciate the cultural diversity in our community. For example, rather than teachers asking their classes how they are going to spend their “fun day off”, a more neutral way to address this would be to simply tell their classes to enjoy the holiday for those who celebrate it. We believe that neutral statements like this aid in awareness and respect towards people celebrating different holidays. 

Although people may believe in different values, practice different religions and celebrate different holidays from one another, it is crucial that an effort is made to understand the importance of all local holidays and other religions.