LEWISTON — The School Committee voted 6-3 Monday to adopt a calendar next year that would have students and staff in class on two Jewish holidays, a reversal from a unanimous vote in March 2021 to recognize the holidays.

Students and staff who wish to observe Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will not be penalized for missing school.

School officials pointed to the small number of students and staff who celebrate the holidays as one reason for the decision. Others said they were concerned about recognizing some religious holidays but not others.

Ward 7 representative Paul Beauparlant told the School Committee he spoke with a local rabbi who he said was not against the change, so long as students and staff who wished to recognize the holiday were able to. Sharing this conversation helped sway at least one representative to vote in favor of adopting the calendar without the holidays.

In September, David Allen, president of Temple Shalom synagogue in Auburn, told the Sun Journal he was not strongly opposed to removing the two holidays from the calendar.

At-large representative Megan Parks, Ward 3 representative Elizabeth Eames and Ward 4 representative Tanya Whitlow voted against removing the holidays from the calendar.


Rosh Hashana is celebrated as the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, is a day of atonement and repentance. The holidays change according to the lunar calendar, but are generally celebrated in the fall.

This was the first year classes were not held on the holidays.

In other business, School Committee members overwhelmingly voiced support to continue recording and livestreaming meetings on YouTube.

Director of instructional technology David Theriault, who has managed the technology each meeting, will be retiring soon. Members generally expressed a desire to keep costs low while continuing to provide the streaming service.

In the future, Zoom participation may not be an option due to costs and technology requirements, however no decisions were made Monday. Superintendent Jake Langlais will begin searching for a location and set-up that will meet the needs of the committee.

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