CAIRO - In a bid to accommodate the religious minorities in Massachusetts, Revere public schools gave all its students a vacation in Muslim and Jewish religious feast, boosting the morals of the state's Muslim and Jewish minority.
We're treating all religions equally on their holy days, Superintendent Paul Dakin told The Everett Independent.
It was a move to treat them equal by giving everyone the day off, such as we've always done with Good Friday. It does break up some continuity in September, but our kids and teachers are as much in other religions now as they are in Protestantism or Catholicism.
It had to be we went to school on all religious days - meaning we would not go on Good Friday - or we give other religions a day off. We discussed it a lot and decided to add the days, he added.
The decision followed a meeting between City's public schools, administrators and School Committee members to discuss the growing religious diversity in Revere, Massachusetts.
Approving the addition of Muslim and Jewish holidays in 2014 school year, the meeting local officials decided that the Revere Schools will also observe two days for the Jewish Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 5th and 6th) and one day for the Muslim `Eid al-Adha (Oct. 15th), in addition to Good Friday (April 18).
The move followed the sharp increase in the number of the Muslim community, which resulted in changing the demographics of the city dramatically.
The Muslim faith now is deep in the community and there are lots of kids that cannot attend school on their holy days, Dakin said.
There were a few hundred kids that would miss on a Muslim holy day at the high school and that was a logistical problem.
On the flip side, we don't have a lot of Jewish students, but we have a lot of Jewish teachers. On their holy days, we would have about 50 teachers out. That also proved difficult, he added.
The Revere city's decision boosted the morals of the state's Muslim minority.
There are thousands of Muslims in Revere now, said Mohamed Lamaallem, executive director of the Al Huda Society in Chelsea - which is heavily attended by Revere residents.
Muslims are a part of American society nowâ¦We certain thank them for giving our kids the day off so they can celebrate with family. We don't have a lot of major holidays - just two of them - but people are required to take the day off.
At some time, we hope that it would be something that is approved by the state Department of Education and not just the individual school districts.
Lamaallem said the October holiday is actually the Holiday of Sacrifice, and it marks Abraham's obedience to God.
`Eid Al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.
The four-day `Eid, which is expected to fall on October 15, marks the end of hajj season.
The only other major holiday, `Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan and and currently falls in the summer time when school is out.
Rabbi Joseph Berman of Temple B'nai Israel said he believes it's an important milestone
This is an important change that reflects the religious make-up of students and teachers in the Revere public schools, he said.
We are blessed to live in such a religiously diverse city with Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and non-religious neighbors.
Cambridge Public Schools were one of the first districts in Massachusetts to recognize all religious holidays last year.
Elsewhere across the United States, home to a Muslim minority between 6-8 million, recognizing Muslim religious holidays is gaining ground.
In Boston, leading schools Cambridge Public School District issued a decision in 2010 to recognize `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha, which marks the end of hajj.
Several cities in New Jersey close schools on Muslim holidays.
Dearborn, Michigan, where nearly half of the 18,000 students are Muslims, is believed to be the first city to close school on Muslim festivals.
In September 2010, public schools in Burlington city, Vermont, also closed on `Eid al-Fitr for the first time.