Bintel Brief: Alan Dershowitz Helps Out With a High Holiday Dilemma

Alan Dershowitz

Dear Prof. Dershowitz,

Like you, I am a law professor. I teach at a private law school that does not cancel classes on Rosh Hashanah.

While the school is closed in observance of select holidays, such as Good Friday, Martin Luther King Day and Yom Kippur, classes are not canceled for many federal holidays. Individual professors may, of course, cancel classes for other reasons, but they must usually schedule a makeup class.

I’m Jewish, but not at all religious, and I hold classes on Rosh Hashanah. My son thinks I should reschedule my class when it falls on Rosh Hashanah for the benefit of my Jewish students (perhaps 10% to 15% of the enrollment) and because he feels that I should observe the day by not teaching. Since I would not attend religious services if I canceled classes, I would feel hypocritical canceling. Jewish students can miss the class without penalty, though they would lose the opportunity to attend that class session. Canceling the class, however, would inconvenience the majority of my students, since there would be a makeup session.

What do you think I should do?


Alan Dershowitz replies:

Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including “Chutzpah,” “The Vanishing American Jew,” “The Genesis of Justice,” “The Case for Israel,” “The Case for Peace” and, most recently, “Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence.”

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Bintel Brief: Alan Dershowitz Helps Out With a High Holiday Dilemma

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