Week of April 23, 2008

Scheduling and Passover

Regarding the article (April 9 issue) about the Clayton students and their families who were upset that the state speech, debate, and drama finals were scheduled to take place on the day of the first seder of Pesach, I wonder why there was no discussion or concern over the fact that this event was scheduled for Shabbat.

Apparently, the students don’t have a problem with traveling to Columbia on Shabbat, arguably more important a conflict than being able to be home in time to help with Pesach preparations, which in any case could (should?) be done on Friday. (The schedule would allow them to be back home before the actual start of Pesach, so missing the seder was not the issue.)

The J advertisement

I do agree that scheduling this event on the day of Erev Pesach was unfortunate and hope that this conflict will not be repeated, I am also concerned that observant Jewish students cannot participate in any high school competitions which are scheduled on Shabbat.

David Steinberg


The Light deserves much credit for publishing Jill Kassander’s April 9 article “State Competition Competes With Passover.” It shows once again the need for members of the Jewish community to sensitize others to our beliefs, practices, and religious holidays. Unfortunately, in the same issue of the Light there was an ad promoting the annual “Dining Out for Life” in support of the Saint Louis EFFORT FOR AIDS. The Light is listed as a sponsor of this event.

While the cause is very worthy, could not another date have been selected? Thursday, April 24 is during Passover and Jews should not be encouraged to participate on that date. If we do not respect ourselves, who will?

Marvin Beckerman

St. Louis County

Thank you so much for the recent article “State Competition competes with Passover.” I’ve been there, done that. Twice in my professional career as pianist for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, I’ve had to make the Passover decision. Because of constraints in the Symphony’s schedule I had to miss a performance which occurred on the first night of Passover and cost me an entire week of subscription concerts as well as a recording session. On another, non-Symphony related occassion, I had accepted an invitation to accompany a very fine singer in a concert in Rolla. To my horror, I realized that the concert coincided with the first night of Passover. That is the only time I ever cancelled a professional commitment. These two situations were the downside.

In retrospect, however, bypassing the two events enhanced my Judaism and my Jewish identity. I was blessed to care so much. I cannot blame those who are not Jewish for having difficulty with Jewish holiday dates (a calendar based on the moon presents special challenges even to Jewish people.)

My experience did help raise awareness in the symphony’s management. They have since made it a policy that before firmly setting the symphony schedule to first check the Jewish calendar. This is not just for players who are Jewish but for patrons as well. I am grateful to the Symphony for establishing such an enlightened policy.

To Rebecca and Hannah, the girls mentioned in the article: keep up the good work. You set a wonderful example for all of us.

Barbara Liberman