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Head of district roiled by Rosh Hashanah debate resigns

July 21, 2021 GMT

BRISTOL, R.I. (AP) — The superintendent of a Rhode Island school district roiled by a debate over starting the coming school year on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah has resigned.

The Providence Journal reports Bristol-Warren Superintendent Jonathan Brice announced his resignation Tuesday saying that the decision was in the best interest of his family.

Brice had recommended the school year begin Sept. 8, but the Bristol Warren School Committee decided to begin classes on Sept. 7, the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

On Monday, he ordered schools to open as he recommended on the day after the start of the holiday, which marks the start of the Jewish New Year and is considered a day of rest where work is forbidden.

“The discussion about the opening of the 2021-2022 school year and whether or not school should be closed for Rosh Hashanah highlights the importance of cultural diversity,” Brice wrote in part in a letter to the school community. “It is important that for this year Rosh Hashanah be observed just as Good Friday is observed.”

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The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island has said the start date violated principles of religious tolerance and forced Jewish students, teachers and staff to choose between school and work or their religious obligation.

The district’s teacher’s union also filed a grievance with the school committee arguing it violates it’s contract’s non-discrimination clause and the school’s anti-discrimination policy.