UW schools keep start date on Jewish holiday

July 5, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Six University of Wisconsin System schools are moving ahead with start dates on the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah despite calls for change.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Monday that the six campuses sent a letter to UW System President Tommy Thompson in June expressing varying levels of regret. But some Jewish professors and students have already decided they will miss the first day of class.

“There is no question that it sets an exclusionary and unwelcoming tone for Jewish students, staff and faculty,” Chad Goldberg, a UW-Madison professor who is Jewish and is affiliated with the Center for Jewish Studies, told the newspaper.

UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Stout and UW-Superior all have scheduled classes to begin Sept. 7 or Sept. 8, the Tuesday and Wednesday after Labor Day. Rosh Hashanah, which marks the start of the Jewish new year, starts unusually early this year, beginning on Sept. 6 and ending on Sept. 8.

UW officials have said at different times over the past six months that it’s too late to switch starting dates because student financial aid, federal and state reporting requirements and technology systems all are built around the start and end dates of each academic term.