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Interfaith Council Expresses Disappointment with Graduation Decision

Letter to the editor

To the Editor:

As representatives of multiple faith communities, we want to express our thoughts related to the most recent discussions and ultimate decision concerning the scheduling of High School Graduation on Friday, June, 21st at 5 p.m.

To begin, we voice our gratitude to Dr. Frances Stromsland, Superintendent of Schools, together with her administration, for her sensitivity to the religious issues associated with holding a graduation immediately prior to the start of the Jewish Sabbath.  

Regardless of our religious orientation, each of us is aware of the many concerns that arise when public events are scheduled that interfere with religious observances.  It is gratifying to know that such attention was given to this important matter.

It is regrettable that despite these sensitivities, the Board of Education chose to schedule this extraordinary lifecycle event so close to the Jewish Sabbath, causing conflicts for those who are observant.   

As members of the Watchung Hills Interfaith Clergy Association, we work diligently to support each other in our sacred work and raise consciousness in the greater community.  We are supportive of every effort of our diverse community to protect sacred time for our families and residents.   

We hope that in the future you will allow us the opportunity to work with you in the fostering of mutual understanding and respect in the midst of calendar schedules.

Sincerely,

Cantor Anna Berman, Temple Har Shalom, Warren

Michael Droege, Youth and Family Minister, Wilson Memorial Union Church, Watchung

Rev.  Sean W. Kenney, Our Lady of the Mount Roman Catholic Church, Warren

Fr. Peter Krebs, S.T., The Shrine of St. Joseph and Trinity House Retreats, Stirling

Rev. Robert Kriesat, Advent Lutheran Church, Warren

Rev. Victoria Geer McGrath, Rector, All Saints Episcopal Church, Millington

Rev. J. Ronald Miller, Pastor Emeritus, Wilson Memorial Union Church, Watchung

Rabbi Randi Musnitsky, D. Min., Temple Har Shalom, Warren

Pastor Barbara Peters, Wilson Memorial Union Church, Watchung

Pastor Thomas Peters, First Presbyterian Church of Stirling, Stirling

Rev. Courtney Randall, Pastor, Mt. Horeb and Springdale UMC, Warren

Br. John Skrodinsky, S. T., The Shrine of St. Joseph, Stirling

Heather Valosin, Director of Pastoral Care, Trinity United Church, Warren

Pastor Debra M. Whitten, Union Village UMC, Warren

LB February 22, 2013 at 04:44 AM
What a beautifully written letter! As our community grows more diverse it gets harder to accommodate everyone's religious practices in a public school setting. It's a shame, though, that the graduation time that will conflict with Sabbath observances. With regards to the state's 180 school day requirement, I understand that there must be such rules in place. However, given the statewide circumstances created by Hurricane Sandy, I wonder why some flexibility couldn't be offered by the state if it involves just a couple of days. I laugh a bit because as most of us know, those last few days of the school year are not always productive. Often books have been collected, projects and final papers handed in. Some classes have celebrations and even watch movies. That 180th day is not necessarily an educational one. I understand that parent volunteers have worked very hard on Project Graduation and that is very much appreciated and should be recognized. But there's one thing I don't understand. What would have been the big deal if there was a gap of time between the graduation ceremony and Project Graduation? The word was that attendance at the event would suffer. The graduates could have been flexible with that. It would give them time to be with family and friends before the event. I would think that for those planning to attend, they still would despite the time gap. Given the situation created by the unprecedented "Sandy," I think flexibility is the key on everyone's part.

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