Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On School Calendars

There has been some heated discussion of late about the calendar of school days in the yeshiva system. The most concern about the calendar is expressed by those where both the husband and the wife work, although they aren't the only ones complaining. Even where only one spouse is working, many people feel that the calendar is not family friendly.

So what is being complained about? In no particular order the complaints follow.

First, some schools give off not only for a Jewish yom tov but for the day before the yom tov and possibly also for the day after a yom tov. In other cases there is school on the day before or day after but it is only a half day.

Also complained about is that schools give off for chol hamoed even when that chol hamoed falls during the week.

Another complaint is about the winter breaks given by the yeshivas. First, those breaks are usually a full week long, even if they may go from midweek to midweek. Second, those breaks fall in January, rather than during the secular holiday breaks that tend to go from December 24 until January 2.

Also complained about is the fact that many yeshivas either do not give off for the standard federal/state holidays, leaving the parents off but not the kids, or that they give the federal holidays off but the rest of the calendar does not mesh well with parents' schedules.

A different complaint is that there are too many half days in the yeshiva schedules, resulting in parents having to make expensive child care arrangements. Included under this complaint is that yeshivas do not adjust their Friday early dismissal schedules in early fall and late spring when school could be held for longer or for a full day because Shabbos starts later.

Under the heading of miscellany are complaints about teacher education or in-service days and about only partial school days on designated parent conference days.

There are also complaints by some parents about there being school on Sundays for some yeshivas, thereby taking away the one day when families could do things together, because the parents aren't working on Sundays. [Note: there are some parents who work on Sundays so this complaint is not universal.]

Many of those complaining have cited the following: some people are still at that point in their careers where they are only receiving two weeks of paid vacation, 9 federal/state holidays and perhaps two personal days. When they add up their paid days off they are insufficient to cover all the days that their children are off from school. And these parents also have to worry about a child possibly being sick, thereby necessitating that a parent take off and stay home.

One major complaint that you hear is that because parents have to use their vacation days to cover the days when their kids are off from school there are no days left to take an actual vacation with the family.

And there is plenty of complaining about the fact that the teachers in the yeshiva system, who already have the summer off, get all those vacation days that the school is closed for with pay.

I have no intention of offering a facile solution to this problem. For one thing, there is no easy solution. But let's get some facts on the table, untinged by high emotion.

First, speaking about a "yeshiva calendar" isn't at all accurate. Every yeshiva, taking into consideration the number of state mandated teaching days in states with mandated days, sets its own calendar. Schools in the same geographic location may not all be following the same exact calendar. In addition, elementary schools and high schools will not be following the same calendar. Thus, if one school should adjust its calendar that would not necessarily make things perfect for parents who have children in more than one school. At one point I had a boy in elementary school in SI, a girl in elementary school in Brooklyn and a girl in high school in Brooklyn. None of the three calendars was identical. Add in that I was teaching in a fourth yeshiva with a different calendar from that of my children's schools and yes, I did a lot of tap dancing to figure out who was going to be where when. My experience is not a unique one; there are many other parents out there now juggling the different calendars of different schools.

Second, let's look at some "immutable" days that the yeshivas will be off. When a yom tov falls on a weekday the yeshiva will be closed. In years that the holidays all fall during the middle of the week parents are going to be using up their own vacation days even if no other days are given off by the school. That is the case this year. Not counting in any days off for chol hamoed, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the first and last days of Sukkot and Pesach and Shavuous account for 13 days of school closing. Note: this is assuming, as is mostly the case, that the mother will be the one taking all of her vacation days to watch the kids when they are off. This would leave the family in something of a conundrum. The mom has no vacation days left and the dad has all his vacation days left but with no wife that could take those vacation days with him. It would make more "mathematical" sense for the husband and wife to equally take those days off to watch the kids. Doing so would allow the two of them a few days left over to actually take a vacation when they choose to do so or to cover any other days the school is closed.

For years now the yeshivas have been giving chol hamoed yom tov off for Pesach and Sukkot. It's hardly a secret. Thus, parents don't even need to see a school's calendar to know that those days will be off. Just why is that the parents who work are talking about having to "scramble" to find child care options when they know well in advance that the schools will be closed? With many months prior notice parents have more than enough time to work out alternative child care arrangements

Just a note: what are some of those alternative arrangements? First, you could hire a baby sitter to be there for the children. Second, you could arrange with others in the neighborhood to alternate watching each other's kids. Third, since the high schools are also off it should be possible to talk to a few high school girls who might run some kind of chol hamoed program for the younger children or even to straight babysit. Fourth, there is no reason why local shuls could not be used for such a chol hamoed program; many larger shuls already provide such programming. Fifth, it is possible that there are family members who might watch the children if given sufficient time beforehand to prepare their own schedules to accomodate. Sixth, there are some businesses that would accomodate a parent by allowing that parent to bring a child with them to work if need be.

There are inevitably going to be days off from school that aren't directly for holiday observance. Some of those days are state/federally mandated. [Note: even here not all schools will give off on all of these holidays or may only give a half day, usually with limudei kodesh studies still taking place in the mornings and a half day off for secular studies in the afternoon. Many yeshivas are not closed on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas or New Years or Martin Luther King Day etc..] Some days off are not holiday related but are for school business, such as testing days or conference days. Again, these are usually not "state secrets" but are known well in advance, such that arrangements for child care can also be made well in advance.

About those early Friday dismissals and readjusting them as the time for Shabbos grows later. At least in NYC, the yeshivas receive bus transportation through the city board of education. The arrangement works out mostly because yeshivas and the public schools don't run on the same time table for arrival and dismissal. The bus companies can do their public school runs and then come pick up the yeshiva students Monday through Thursday. On Friday they pick up the yeshiva students and then do their public school runs. If a yeshiva changes its times of dismissal such that the time overlaps with the public school dismissal time, the yeshiva won't have any transportation for its students. This would mean that parents would still be making "child care" arrangements in having to find people willing to pick up their children and deliver them home.

About giving off on a taanis. Elementary schools have a problem in that some of their students will be fasting--those in the upper grades--and some will not. Some schools solve this problem by giving a full day or a half day off only to the upper grades; some schools find the scheduling and transportation easier if they simply don't have school at all for anyone. High schools presumably have everyone fasting so they do the kids a favor and let them off for the day. Yes, yes, I know, working parents are also fasting and don't have any options but to go to school so why should the teachers in the school get off easy and not have to work. Hello, people, those are your kids we are talking about, not a handful of teachers.

Here's the thing: working parents are going to have a problem with the yeshiva calendar no matter what the schools do. Could some of the calendars be constructed better? Sure, but no school calendar is going to be a "perfect" solution for any given set of parents, certainly not for all the parents in any given school, and certainly not across all schools in a given city.

Let's face some unpalatable facts. When both parents work there is NO yeshiva calendar that is not going to play havoc with their work schedules. Working parents with young children who cannot be left home alone are going to be in for child care expenses no matter what the yeshivas do. Yeshivas/schools, like any other business, have days that are only partial days for the students because of legitimate "business" concerns that require those half days. Some parents, and that is only some parents, would find that having the calendar adjusted so that the winter break coincides with the secular holidays would be beneficial. I've heard a lot about how the offices these parents work in are so unbusy during that time that taking some vacation days would be just perfect then. Could we keep in mind that not all yeshiva parents work in the exact same fields and that for some parents the time period of the secular holidays is not only busy but way busier than usual?

In short, yes there could be some areas of a yeshiva calendar that could be tweaked by some yeshivas to provide some relief for working parents. But there is never going to be a wholesale calendar that will make everyone happy. Working parents are always going to find themselves having conflicts between their work schedules and the school schedules. And yes, there are always going to be conflicts between what one set of parents wants/needs and what other sets of parents want/need. Even if the schools could manage to make the majority of parents happier, there are still going to be lots of parents who aren't happy. Fact of life.


Leahle said...

You left off as a suggestion that the schools themselves could run programs for working parents on the days they are closed. Sure there would be an extra charge for that but if you have to pay a babysitter anyway what's the difference?

The real fact is that our frum society, and still parts of the secular society also, are not set up to accomodate the needs of two working parents with young kids in school. Wouldn't matter if the schools never gave off for anything but the actual days of yom tov. The dismissal times would have to be moved to around 6:30 pm for parents in the NY area who just can't get home until around then coming from the city to the outer boros or into NJ. And arrival time would have to be around 7 in the morning. Not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

This is not an issue unique to observant Jews. The rest of the country is full of families with both parents working who have to deal with school days ending at 2:30 or 3:00, school vacations, summer breaks, snow days and sick days.

Rae said...

I think Anonymous put it correctly. This is not a yeshiva problem. It's a school versus working parents problem no matter whether secular or religious. Leahle also got it right that society still doesn't seem to get that there are millions of families with two working parents. School times and calendars aren't set up to take this into consideration.

It should be obvious that schools are the best place where child care should be based. The kids are already there for most of the day and the building is already there. Money is going to change hands no matter what so the convenience factor should be primary.

Lion of Zion said...


"This is not an issue unique to observant Jews."

it's not, but the frustration of yeshivah parents is compounded by the fact that we are paying a much higher premium (often for dubious academic results), yet our needs are ignored. of course schools are not 24/7 daycare, but there is still much more room for accomadating parents that would cost nothing and involve no (or little) headache.

for example, winter break at the end of january is ridiculous. most people have at least 2 days off for christmas/new year. some have off more time or otherwise find it easy to take off here if needed. so what's the purpose of making it at the end of january when no ones has off. furthermore, (in NYC at least) there is no (or in some cases limited) school bus service christmas week, so parents now have the additional headache of transporting the kids. so why not just have off for christmas/new year?

and why not just get rid of sunday school (which most parents i know don't want) and use the money to restore days during the week (which most parents need). again an easy no-brainer? (of course the schools retort that they don't want the boys to go a day without learning torah, yet 10 days in january doesn't seem to bother them.

Tuvi said...

Schools don't necessarily have all the data about how many dual earner families they have in the school. If a family is paying full tuition that information is not down in writing anywhere. If a family is getting tuition assistance then the information would be available. But are the schools looking at that information outside of the tuition assistance question?

For instance, if a school would have only 20% of families with dual earners they wouldn't see an incentive to change their scheduling since most mothers would be available for their children's days off. But if the school would see in black and white that they had 50% or 60% or more of their families as dual earners they might be persuaded to rethink their school schedules. And the more parents in the school who are dual earners--and full tuition payers--who would get vocal with the schools and organize themselves to present a united front, the more likely the school would be in accomodating them. Only one parent speaking up won't make a dent in the schedule but a large group of parents could make a difference.

Yes, the fact that we are paying for this education should come in to the discussion somewhere but the prime fact still remains that working parents with young kids are never going to see a school schedule that fits everyone in the school perfectly or even near perfectly.

Mike S. said...

It is true that school schedules are generally geared toward one parent working. But there arethings that make the yeshivah problem worse.

1) Parents generally have to use up most or all of their vacation time for Yom Tov. We have effectively somewhere between 7 and 13 fewer days of vacation that can be used to cover school outages. It becomes important for yeshivas to be sensitive to this and not schedule so many extra days off.

2) All the public schools (and all grades) in an area generally have the same calendar. The yeshivas don't. That means that parents with young kids can easily be having to negotiate many more days off. Also high schoolers are not necessarily available to baby sit their younger siblings (or some other kids) when the elementary students are off. I can't see any reason why the various schools can't get together on a consistent calendar.

3) If a kid can't function in school while fasting on ta'anit Esther, 10 Tevet or tzom gedalia, he or she shouldn't be fasting on those days anyway; the health standards for exemption are much lower than for 9 Av or Yom Kippur.

4) Almost no other business has "business needs" for a half day or full day closure. For example, when they need to train employees, they don't train them all on the same day. I kind of get parent teacher conferences but I don't get professional days or many of the other days off.

5) to the extent they have need for extra days off, 2 half days are much more difficult than one whole day.

Lion of Zion said...


"Schools don't necessarily have all the data about how many dual earner families they have in the school."


"Only one parent speaking up won't make a dent in the schedule "

yes, this is a different problem

"never going to see a school schedule that fits everyone in the school perfectly or even near perfectly."

and this is one excuse that a school uses not to make *any* changes.

Anonymous said...

I agree that working parents are going to have difficulties regardless of what the schools do, but that is no excuse for not making some changes. Having all the schools within a geographic area coordinate their schedules and getting rid of the January breaks are simply no brainers. Also, even if only 20% of the students have two working parents (a figure that obviously is too low) that is no reason for not trying to help out that 20%. Jewish schools should be leaders in setting examples in doing what is right.

Trudy said...

The original public school schedule that is still mostly followed by schools in the US DID accomodate parents. The kids were needed home to help on the farm during growing season and harvest season. Even the schools in the larger urban areas followed this schedule and you could hardly say that most parents in NYC needed their kids home in the summer to help on the farm.

There are some places that have gone away from the traditional calendar and have gone to year round schooling with shorter breaks built in throughout the year. I'm wondering how that schedule works out for families where both parents work. You can't exactly send the kids to camp in February or November.

One suggestion that I read on a different blog talked about making the school day longer and eliminating Sundays. Sounds nice in theory but has anyone thought about whether a six year old could reasonably handle a day away from home that would begin around 7:30 in school and end around 6:30? That would have to include at least two meals a day eaten in school if not three? (And let's not even talk here about the garbage meals that are given out in the school cafeterias). Sure the concerns of the parents are important but shouldn't the first focus be on what would be best for the kids? Otherwise, why bother having any.

Anonymous said...

If school schedules are geared to only one parent working, then maybe its time for tuitions to be geared to only one parent working. Unfortunately, since not every family can have an investment banker, neurosurgeon or wall street lawyer, those two earner families are necessary to pay tuition. Nothing like biting the hand that feeds you.

Lion of Zion said...


"One suggestion that I read on a different blog talked about making the school day longer and eliminating Sundays."

i made a simiar suggestion elsewhere and above, but it involved shifting hours from sunday to vacation days and half days. every sunday eliminated could restore a half day to full day. every 2 sundays eliminated could restore 1 full day.

tesyaa said...

Giving fast days off is for the teachers at least as much for the students who might be fasting. Otherwise, why in the world do the full day preschools also close early on fast days? Like you said, working parents fast at work and preschool teachers should be able to also.

JS said...


Kinda surprised at the lengths you went to in the post to defend the status quo. To me, it was just a bunch of apologetics.

I don't have kids yet, so maybe I'm way off here, but the parents aren't complaining that the days off are a surprise or that it catches them off guard, they're complaining that the days off are wholly unnecessary and that it unduly burdens them. Yes, arrangements can be made (and are made), but that misses the point. They shouldn't have to be made in the first place!

I'll grant you chol hamoed perhaps, but erev chag? Isru chag? And why can't teacher conferences or other events be on Sundays or at other times that are convenient for working parents and not just administrators and teachers? Most working parents I know have to work at least occasionally on Sundays (for no extra pay) or stay late or come in early for training. The perception, true or false, is that administrators and teachers look at the calendar and decide what would be most convenient for them. Teachers need to prepare for yom tov? OK, give off erev chag. They need to relax and get their houses back in order afterward? OK, give off isru chag. It's the lack of consideration that bothers everyone. The same goes for late-starting Shabbat - I can't head out of work till at least 5PM and make it home about 30 minutes before mincha. Why should the teachers/administrators get the luxury?

And yes, it is about the kids as well. It's about how the parents are paying for their kids to learn something and nearly every school week is somehow interrupted by a day off or an early dismissal.

Finally, I think what's really an issue is how the schools try to out-frum each other by scoffing at secular holidays and secular vacation days. Beyond scoffing, they davka make school on these days to prove they are frum and not following "chukat hagoyim." So, school on Thanksgiving, move vacation away from Christmas and New Year's, etc. I see this at shuls also. If the parents should have off on a secular holiday, they are bombarded with learning opportunities and shiurim. God forbid parents and kids should have off on a day that isn't shabbat or yom tov to just enjoy each other's company and do a family activity.

The only "solution" is to send all your kids to the same coed school.

tesyaa said...

I think JS commented elsewhere that there's an attitude that you can't possibly be a frum Jew and work erev Yom Tov and as late as possible on Fridays. I get this all the time. When I went back to work full time, people said, "but you're off Fridays, right?" Uh, no. A neighbor asked me two weeks before Pesach when my "last day" was. Uh - erev Pesach? (Actually, I took a half day off erev Pesach, while my husband took the day off and my teenagers did their assigned preparations). I don't think I'm a lesser Jew because I make sure to prepare for Shabbos Thursday night instead of spending all day Friday doing so.

Anonymous said...

tessya: It depends on the person and the job, but fasting at a desk job generally is not the same fasting while running around after active pre-schoolers all day.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: Something tells me that you have not spent too many years working a year-round full time 9-5 job (i.e. not a job with an academic calendar) with only one to two weeks vacation and perhaps a few sick/personal days.

Lion of Zion said...


some minor quibbles:

"The arrangement works out mostly because yeshivas and the public schools don't run on the same time table for arrival and dismissal."

i don't think this is true.

"those are your kids we are talking about"

my son has quite a few years to go before he fasts

"those breaks are usually a full week long"

my son's winter break is from thurs all the way through the following week

"the number of state mandated teaching days in states with mandated days"

i haven't been able to confirm that there is a mandated amount other than for UPK.

major objections:

1) as JS pointed out above, our issue is not last minute scrambling, but the calendar per se

2) you are basically concluding that because it is impossible to satisfy everyone (i don't disagree here) then the schools shouldn't bother trying to satisfy anyone? certainly there are some ways to fix the schedule that would address the needs of the majority of parents.

Miami Al said...

So what industry is the "slow" period late January?

ProfK said...

Sorry (or maybe not) if some of what follows comes out sounding a little bit snippy, but my tolerance level at this time of night is way down. I left for work at 11:30 this morning and arrived home at 11:12 pm--yeah, really a cushy job we teachers have. And the same happened Monday. And that's not counting the 9-1/2 hours yesterday spent on marking and test preparation.

To the anonymous who guesses I haven't spent a lot of time in 9-5 jobs with limited vacation time--you're wrong. And even with being full time in academia now I also freelance and am dealing with the corporate schedules of my clients.

Let me see if I can sum up my intentions for this posting briefly. The old Yiddish saying applies here: alles in einem ist nisht du bei keinem--everything all together nobody has. No, not every parent will be happy no matter what a yeshiva does to tweak its schedule. Should there be some accomodation? Yes, but it isn't going to happen if parents insist on "it's going to be my way to be completely perfect for me or else." And it sure isn't going to happen until parents get off their duffs and put in the necessary expenditure of time and effort to organize together with other parents to confront the schools. You want all the schools in a community to be using the same calendar? Then all of you, as a full community are going to need to pull together and speak with a unified voice. There's a reason why we have the saying "There's strength in numbers." It's long past the time for all the mumbling and complaining--the time now is to put your actions where your mouths have been. Sorry if you're offended, but I call 'em as I see 'em.

Lion, yes there are mandated numbers of days in NY. Either go to or and do a search for mandated teaching days/hours. And yes, the bus schedules for the yeshivas work out because they have different hours from the public schools. When schools have days with dismissals that conflict with the public school pick ups the yeshivas will usually tell the parents they have to make private arrangements for pick up. One local yeshiva that had a schedule that conflicted had to contract with a private bus company to provide the transportation and parents paid plenty for that.

Al, what industries are slow in January? How about retail sales. The big push is heading up to Christmas. The week between Christmas and New Years is packed with people returning items they got as gifts for the holidays. From then until the big sales for the Presidents Day observance retail is fairly much dead. The new spring styles are not yet in the stores and the winter styles have been picked over already. January is a dead month for consumer appliance sales, again partially because of the preceding holidays. The hospitality and tourism industries and their related businesses are slow as molasses in January, Florida perhaps excepted for those with no children on school schedules any longer. Colleges are back in session. Accountants who deal with businesses whose fiscal calendar run on the regular calendar have plenty of end of quarter reports to be doing at the end of December, first week of January and are slower at the end of January.

You know what got me miffed? Nowhere in all that complaining I read was there even one suggestion for how to get a change made. No one put forth a copy of a petition that could be circulated among parents or how to organize that. No one mentioned having a series of parlor meetings or a community wide meeting to discuss the calendar specifically and where a parents manifesto could be presented. No one presented an idea of how to adjudicate parental differences of opinion. No one put forth a single idea that might actually get some change going.

Sure, the Internet is a great place to let off steam--I do it myself. But in no way is its possibility as a tool for real change being utilized.

Sorry, but enough said. It's after midnight and I have a full day again tomorrow.

Lion of Zion said...

"yes there are mandated numbers of days in NY"

certainly not from a state perspective (i can't find anything from the city, but i'm not a good internet searcher): "The nonpublic school's calendar should approximate that of the public school, but it need not be in session for the 180 days required for a public school district to receive its full State aid." see

" And yes, the bus schedules for the yeshivas work out because they have different hours from the public schools."

then how do you explain that public and private schools (jewish or otherwise) both start at approximately the same time? the bus companies seem to manage in the morning and i see no reason why they afternoons should be an issue. perhaps the school you mentioned waited too late to request a change in bus schedules? (i know for a fact that it wouldn't be the first time a yeshivah lost out on public funding because it couldn't get its act together)

"No one put forth a copy of a petition that could be circulated among parents or how to organize that. No one mentioned having a series of parlor meetings or a community wide meeting"


Adele said...

Hope a nights sleep and a gallon of coffee relaxed you Prof. You're preaching activism about 20 years too late. To people for whom conversation means text messaging and face to face means I'll comment on your facebook page and you comment on mine the idea of expending energy in getting people together in person is quaint and old fashioned. It's far easier to say that THEY won't listen anyway so why bother.

Even if you were to get together a group of the old rabble rousers and do all the organizing just how many people do you think would come to a public meeting and put themselves on the line by publicly saying to the schools you need to change the calendar or face the consequences of an enraged parent body. Today's generation of parents is mostly afraid of its own shadow. They don't sneeze without worrying about how THEY will look at it. And don't think that THEY don't know that--it's what they count on to keep the parents in line.

Anonymous said...

Won't say I love the school calendar cuz I don't but if you are looking to take a vacation with your kids in the winter break the January time is better than the earlier end of Dec. break. With all the public schools and colleges off then and with businesses giving off for the holidays every touristy attraction is over packed with people December time, and the prices aren't cheap. Airfares to anyplace warm are jacked up in price December time and just try to find an open flight---not going to happen. Local attractions are also packed with people.

Miami Al said...

The oldest Day School down here, the Hebrew Academy of Miami, was originally a winter school for wintering NYers on holiday. Traditionally, the wealthy people in the North East would go on vacation in the winter. As private tutors gave way to school environments, a winter school existed. One of the Fort Lauderdale Prep schools started the same way, the founder was tutoring children on vacation, and expanded year round for locals, and eventually turned into a year round school...

The time frame for this was the 30s, as the depression wiped out some people but not others.

Regarding retail, the slow period includes Christmas to New Years. Late January is the end of the fiscal year for retailers... and January matters now since gift cards have extended the Christmas shopping season into January.

Look, for the wealthy vacationing set, January is cheaper for family vacations than December. Ski Vacations and Cruises are big from January through March, and are popular with the wealthy.

The parents with dual W-2 earning spouses are getting killed by a schedule created in a different era, before the age of salaries and vacation days (and FICA and income taxes for all), when you worked and got paid or didn't work and didn't get paid.

ProfK: for many people that are busting ass to pay for this expensive lifestyle, 12 hour days are the norm, not a long day to be complained about. And for those with a normal 12 hour day, there are not multiple 1 week+ breaks to recharge.

Sunday School: it is beyond silly to insist that every day must be learning Torah and closing for weeks at a time. I understand the philosophy: Shabbat and Yom Tov you learn with your father, during the week you learn with your Rebbe.

That said, for those that don't have the luxury of weeks at a time, a holiday based programming during Chol Hamoed would be nice. Make it optional, charge a fee, and do all holiday programming. "Back in the day" the schools were open Chol Hamoed Sukkot, because it was assumed that some of the kids would otherwise not eat in a Sukkah, but as the Orthodox community has increased in observance, this is less of a concern.

The day schools aren't going to change, and they answer to two groups:
A) the wealthy -- whose need for expensive vacations is important because they foot the bill with donations
B) the poor -- who simply have free time to organize, show up, and generally attend every meeting

A family where one spouse works 60-80 hours and the other works 40-50 hours simply doesn't have time for 3-4 hour evening meetings where the administrators pontificate and allow 10 minutes for questioning.

Things aren't going to change, so people come online to vent.

tesyaa said...

How many frum parents work in retail stores (excluding frummie businesses?) I'm laughing at that one. And Orthonomics has often commented that as an accountant, mid January is a terrible time for a break.

And there is no way that yeshivas are required to meet the 180 day requirement. In the local bais yaakov, girls are off from Rosh Chodesh Nisan until after Pesach. They start the year and end the year the same time as all other schools. They certainly have the same holidays and inservice days off. How many SCHOOL days are they off for Pesach? I'd say 15-17.

I have nothing against teachers and administrators, but the school schedule is designed around their needs/desires, not those of the parents. Why not just say so?

Anonymous said...

How many frum parents work in retail stores (excluding frummie businesses?) I'm laughing at that one.

Must be nice tesyaa to live in such a rarified atmosphere where frum Jews are only doctors, lawyers and indian chiefs. Step off your dream cloud and I'll introduce you to a whole bunch of people who work in retail and manufacturing and not all of them in what you snidely categorize as frummie stores. And if they work in a store owned by a frum person and which serves both the frum and secular community that's a problem to you?

tesyaa said...

Anonymous - many frum people I know shy away from any business dealings with non-Jews. So working as a seasonal worker at Macy's in December is OUT. Most frum people I know in retail work in frum establishments serving frum people. I can think of one lady who works in ShopRite and I have a lot of respect for her.

tesyaa said...

I forgot to add that as a frum teenager at age 16, I went from store to store at our local mall applying for summer jobs until I was hired. Can you imagine a frum girl today being willing to work in a mall selling tank tops and shorts (and dealing with non-Jewish customers)? Mostly they're working in backyard camps.

Lion of Zion said...


"The perception, true or false, is that administrators and teachers look at the calendar and decide what would be most convenient for them."

gee, you think this possibly could be true?

(one administrator explained to me that he "has no choice" but to give off 2 weeks for pesach because the teachers would all just call in sick anyway.)


i think that working as a teenager (camps don't count) is an important life lesson that our kids miss out on.

Mark said...

ProfK - Let's face some unpalatable facts. When both parents work there is NO yeshiva calendar that is not going to play havoc with their work schedules.

Really? "NO" calender? How about this - the schools remain open on every single day that a frum parent in a regular job will normally work. That would be every Monday through Friday except national holidays and chag days. And to heck with 180 days, if I'm paying $15k in tuition, I want way more than 180 days a year.

Can't say "no" calendar anymore, can you? :-)


ProfK said...


Can't say "no" calendar anymore, can you? :-)

Sure I can. You are assuming a fact that is not true across the board: ALL parents receive ALL federal/state holidays as off days. Maybe most, maybe only some do, but not all. One exception disproves the rule, and I know lots of exceptions to that rule. Let me give just one type of example.

Hospitals do not close down for federal holidays. (And yes, these are "regular" jobs) Even with a reduced crew because some people take a personal day off, doctors, nurses, technicians, all kinds of therapists and administrative staff report for duty. The same is true for long care facilities and nursing homes.

At least in the NYC area you have plenty of frum people associated with the above mentioned "businesses." In many cases, for instance, the frum nurses trade shifts with the non-Jewish nurses--I'll cover your days you need off if you will cover me for my holiday days off. So they don't have to work on yom tov but they find themselves working on Christmas and New Years and a whole bunch of the federal holidays.

We have 3 frum pharmacists in our shul. The pharmacies they work for are open on all federal holidays. They, too, find themselves working those days because they have arranged to trade with others who will cover when they need to be off for yom tov.

Oh, and by the way, this group of parents also may have to include Sundays, whether always or only sometimes, as part of their working days, so having no school on Sundays would not benefit those people.

So I stand by my statement that NO calendar would be good for ALL working parents in a school. And we really have to stop defining regular jobs for frum people as being only those associated with Wall Street, accounting or the law.

Dina said...

Thanks for considering nursing as a regular job. Yes, I'll be working second shift today and tomorrow because I exchanged these days for when I was off for Shavuous. I'm lucky that my husband will be home tomorrow to look after the kids. My sister, who is also a nurse, isn't so lucky. Her husband is a radiology technician and he is on call today and tomorrow. Have you ever tried to hire a babysitter over a legal holiday weekend?! Even the frum ones have plans. They'll have to travel about 1 1/2 hours each way to drop the kids off by family.

I think they could do better by the calendar when it comes to the extra days around a yom tov but they are never going to get it perfect for everybody.