Jersey City School Board Votes Against Closing Schools For Muslim Holiday

| by Brendan Kelly
Muslims in prayer during Eid al-AdhaMuslims in prayer during Eid al-Adha

The Jersey City, New Jersey, school board stirred controversy on Sept. 17 after they decided against closing schools for a Muslim holiday.

After four hours of discussion about the idea of closing schools for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the board voted down the motion, reported.

Jersey City Schools Superintendent Marcia Lyles said that the decision was made because board members felt that it was too short notice for parents to make arrangements if school were to be closed. Eid al-Adha is celebrated on Sept. 24, and Jersey City has already deemed it a city holiday.

A petition to close schools on the holiday was started in June by a Muslim Jersey City parent named Jessica Abdelnabbi Berrocal. Berrocal said she thinks that the vote means that "they aren't ready for the change" but she said she will keep working as an activist in the community.

"That (short notice) is not the complete truth," Berrocal said, according to "The Board of Education has received letters since 3 years ago. This battle has been going on for 25 years… We the people believe in our rights that the constitution have gave us and we will stand up for our rights. I will not back down."

“We feel alienated from the board of Education, we feel alienated from this system,” said Muslim community member Omar Abouelkhair, according to NJ 101.5.

Jewish members of the community said that they felt "left out" because the schools would not be closing for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

The Schools Superintendent's Chief of Staff Maryann Dickar, however, said that the Jewish community has not asked for Jewish holidays off as the Muslim community has. She added that the board will consider all religious holidays for the 2016-2017 school year.

Jersey City Rabbi Debra Hachen of Temple Beth-El said she would like to offer her assistance to the Muslim community to help the school board consider closing for religious holidays in time for the next school year. 

"Our community is fully in support of religious freedom of expression and understands the desire of our Muslim friends and neighbors to have the schools closed for Eid al-Adha," she said, according to

Sources:, NJ 101.5

Photo Credit: NJ 101.5, WikiCommons