Requests Come To Frederick County School Board To Grant Days Off For Muslim Holidays

They requests come from Muslim students, representatives of other faiths.

Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County School System gives students, faculty and staff days off for major Christian and Jewish holidays; and some Muslims want the same treatment for two of their holidays, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.   They spoke last week before the Board of Education.

Yuseff is a 4th grader at Lincoln Elementary School. “Islam is the second largest religion in the world. There are many Muslims students like me, teachers and staff members that are part of school districts who would feel  supported and valued when their holiday is recognized as a day off,” he said.

Another student who spoke was Monsur Nouri, a sophomore at Governor Thomas Johnson High School. “Recognizing Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as school holidays is essential as it respects religious diversity, promote inclusivity and fosters understanding in our school community,” he said.

The students received support from representatives of other faith communities during last week’s School Board meeting. Rabbi Jordan Hersh is with the Beth Sholom Congregation in Frederick. “I want to ask you, members of the Board of Ed, to focus a greater amount of attention on upholding the free exercise clause, by recognizing the major holidays of our Muslim students, teachers, faculty and staff, and ensuring that they don’t have to choose between celebrating their holiday, and knowing that they’re recognized, valuable members of this community in the county and the schools,”: he said.

Also speaking was Reverend Kirsten Schrom-Rhodes, the Associate Pastor of the Evangelical Reform United Church of Christ in Frederick. “We know that it isn’t a school board’s role to teach faith-based lessons. However, I hope that students are taught to value spirituality, which can include the way a faith community participates in spiritual formation, a culture and heritage which includes religion, and their respective diversity which includes advocacy, equity and inclusion,”: she said.

According to Wikipedia, Eid al-Fitr is a celebration by Muslims across the world. It marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month-long period of  dawn-to-dusk fasting by Muslims. This year it begins on April 9th at sundown.

Eid al-Adha is called the Feast of the Sacrifice and honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael. (The Christian and Jewish tradition says it was Abraham’s son, Isaac, who was about to be sacrificed). This year it begins at sundown on Sunday, June 16th.

The Board of Education took no action on this request. But Board members Sue Johnson and Jason “Mr. J” Johnson expressed support for adding these two holidays to the School System calendar.

By Kevin McManus