LEWISTON — Muslim celebrations known as Eid will be included in the Lewiston Public Schools calendar as holidays, beginning this year.

The School Committee voted 8-1, with member Ron Potvin opposing, Monday night to recognize the two festivals as significant events for the city’s Muslim community.

“We will no longer have to ask kids to choose between their school and their faith,” Superintendent Jake Langlais said.

He said Eid celebrations have fallen on prom night and during standardized testing.

The holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, are annual celebrations held around the world. The dates are not the same every year because they follow the moon phases.

“We have the ability to communicate with our community the time frames in which Eid could be recognized and then broadcast it out for a holiday school closure,” Langlais wrote in a memo to the School Committee.

“This may create some complications, but we find ways to make it work for other holidays,” he said.

Siad Shaleh, a community relations coordinator for Lewiston Public Schools, told the committee he was “really excited” about the recognition.

“It will be seen that Lewiston cares about all citizens and about being considerate of others’ holidays,” he said.

He said Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting determined by the Muslim calendar. Eid-al-Adha falls during the 12th month of that calendar. Both are celebrated with large gatherings where food is shared.

Ayesha Hall, equity resource officer for Lewiston Public Schools, said the change was not about days off. “It’s about celebrating the diversity of (Lewiston Public Schools). We have to make sure we are honoring diversity with action.”

She said such recognition shows the difference between inclusion and belonging.

“Belonging to a community means I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine,” she said.

“This is a long-overdue change and I’m thrilled (Langlais) brought it forward,” committee member Kiernan Majerus-Collins said. “This makes Lewiston a welcoming place where people will feel ownership, dignity and respect.”

All other holidays on the school calendar are Christian/Catholic-based, Langlais said.

He said the two Eids, if they fall on weekdays and not during scheduled vacations, would be made up at the end of the year.

Potvin asked whether any Jewish holidays were included in the school calendar as excused absences.

Langlais said no.


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