The Lewiston, Maine School Committee on Monday voted 6-3 to drop Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur from the holidays’ calendar, compelling students and staff to attend classes on those two days – although individuals who wish to observe Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will not be penalized for missing school, The Sun Journal reported.
Monday’s decision reversed a unanimous vote that was taken in March 2021 to recognize both Jewish high holidays.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, approximately 500 Jews live in Lewiston, out of a general population of about 31,000.
The Sun Journal reported that School officials mentioned the small number of students and staff who celebrate the Jewish High Holidays as the reason for the calendar change. Others were concerned about recognizing these religious holidays and not others (although they all stay home on December 25).
One committee member, Paul Beauparlant, said he had spoken with a local rabbi who was not against the calendar change, as long as Jewish students and staff were allowed to stay home on those days.
Committee members Megan Parks, Elizabeth Eames, and Tanya Whitlow voted against the change.
Rosh Hashanah Eve falls this year on Sunday, September 25, and the two days of Rosh Hashanah will be Monday and Tuesday. Erev Yom Kippur is on Tuesday, October 4.
Yelp lists the 10 best synagogues near Lewiston, ME, at least one of which, Congregation Beth Israel on 49 E Grand Avenue, is Orthodox. But not to worry, according to the Yelp review, “it is very welcoming to Jews of any stripe, and non-Jews too.” Also, “Being Orthodox, the women are separated from the men with a curtain, but the 2 groups mingle comfortably for Kiddush after the service.”
As they very well should.