Petition to Make Yom Kippur a Non-Instructional Day at American University

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American University hosts one of the largest Jewish populations of any private university in the nation. They offer a diverse range of programs to meet all social, cultural, religious, and educational needs of the Jewish community. At the moment, there are approximately 1600 Jewish undergraduates in AU, which is roughly 18% of the population. Furthermore, ~19% of AU's graduates identify as Jewish. 

Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement, is considered the most important day in Jewish faith. As part of the High Holidays, which includes Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year,) Yom Kippur consists of practices that allow Jewish persons to commit to self-reflection and inner change. The Jewish community focuses on their spiritual well-being, setting aside physical requirements. During this day, observants abstain from eating/drinking (the most common form of practice) and often choose not to go to work/school as part of their fast.

Because the Torah asks Jewish observants to "afflict themselves" in order to focus on inner improvement, Yom Kippur is a very strenuous day. Without water or nutrients in their body, observants often become fatigued and lose focus throughout the day. Although Yom Kippur is considered an excused absence for observants, many students miss important lectures, quizzes, and tests that they are forced to make up at a different point. Despite hosting such a large Jewish population, American University has yet to make Yom Kippur a non-instructional day. 

I am calling upon all American University students to sign this petition to make Yom Kippur a non-instructional day. Although AU claims to be a diverse and welcoming environment that treats all members equally, Jewish members lack the same rights as Christians, who receive almost a full month off for "Winter Break" (aka Christmas). Jewish students deserve the right to observe this day and focus on inner change without fear of missing important work. Please, sign this petition to make American University a school that treats all members equally.