Jewish Alliance of R.I. pleads Bristol-Warren schools to change start date


BRISTOL, R.I. (WLNE) – The Bristol-Warren School Committee will meet Monday evening where they will discuss pushing the start date for school, which currently falls on Rosh Hashanah.

This is the third time the committee will discuss changing the date. The two previous times, the request was denied.

The President of the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island is now speaking out. He says he never expected it to get this heated and doesn’t understand why the committee won’t budge.

“We really believe that starting school on Rosh Hashanah, which is one of the holiest days of the year, really puts Jewish families and teachers in an impossible position,” Adam Greenman, President of the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island said. “This year was a quirk. For the first time in 25 years, the first day of school, which is traditionally the first day after Labor Day would correspond with Rosh Hashanah.”

Greenman says the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island alerted schools across the state of the potential issue ahead of the summer. Bristol-Warren was the only public school district that scheduled its start date on the holiday.

“We reached out to them and asked them to please make the change and they respectfully declined,” Greenman said. “That’s when we really felt like we needed to marshal other resources, and really help educate them.”

Rosh Hashanah marks the New Year for the Jewish community and is the start of the 10 days of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur.

According to Greenman, the committee told him the reason behind the decision is that they do not want the school year to go late into June and are worried about snow days. Greenman says there are other options.

“We’re not asking them to give Rosh Hashanah as a day off; we’re simply asking the school year not start on the holiest day of the year,” Greenman said.

He says one option is to move the start date to the Thursday or Friday the week prior. Another option is to push the start date one day later. Either way, he says he’ll continue to speak out until their voices are heard.

“One of our core values is standing with others so that no one stands alone and this is a time we need others to stand with us,” Greenman said.

ABC 6 News has reached out to the President of the school committee and the Superintendent, but did not hear back.

In a letter to parents obtained by ABC6, Superintendent Jonathan Brice issued a directive instructing the School Committee change the district’s start date.

“We must ensure that our school calendar meets the RIDE requirements but also supports the varied religious and culturally significant dates that our community recognizes,” Brice said in the letter. “My original calendar had the first day of school beginning on Sept. 8, 2021, and this recommendation should have been accepted.”

The School Committee still has the final say on whether the change is made.

We will be at the meeting tonight and will be sure to keep you updated.

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island