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Ode to All Sleepless Parents

Today is Rosh Hashanah, a celebration of the Jewish New Year. As such, I'm staying off the computer. For those of you laboring at work, take some time to get a good laugh and shed a few tears at this "Pachelbel-inspired ditty" found on YouTube:

Recalls Update:

For some, the Thomas train recall saga is ending. Four moms: Gail, Jodi, Moira and Tamara, have kindly kept us posted over the past two months with RC2's response to the train recall (Thanks, moms). During that time, RC2 has sent replacement trains, shipping checks and update letters. The replacements started arriving in late August. For two, the process took about two months from the point of mailing the trains to receiving replacements, all of which were the same characters that they had sent back to RC2. Two moms -- one of whom is the one who sent back the most trains -- have been told to expect replacements in mid-October, about four months after they sent the tainted lot back.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, China's head of product safety promised that his country would resolve its issues with using lead paint in time for the holidays. And on Monday, Disney said it would begin testing toys that use its licensed characters. All this testing won't solve all the toy problems, though. For instance, lead testing won't deal with toy designs that use tiny magnets, toy industry analysts say.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  September 13, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers
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Let me just commend the people of RC2 for handling this situation as well as can be expected. Truely a textbook example of how to manage a "crisis" such as this. They kept in constant communication, sent us new trains to tide us over until the replacement trains arrive. Were appropriately apologetic and did not waste time placing blame, etc. Yesterday our new trains arrived and our son could not have been happier. Kudos to the RC2 folks for getting it.

Posted by: Isle of Sodor | September 13, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

How about what parents are doing to teach their kids about Rosh Hoshanah? Do Jews today seriously follow the edicts of the holidays that require NO work to be done? Have schools done anything to prepare for the holiday or kids missing school because of it?

Posted by: Liz D | September 13, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Asking "do Jews today seriously follow..." seems a bit disrespectful to me. Obviously, Stacey does, but I'm sure it's an individual decision. Just as members of my (minority) religion won't *all* be taking a day off for our religious new year about 6-7 weeks from now, but some will.

Posted by: Sue | September 13, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"Have schools done anything to prepare for the holiday or kids missing school because of it?"

Or here's a more appropriate question: why exactly are schools closing for a religious holiday in the first place? And before someone says "but but but they're closed for CHRISTMAS, so it's only FAIR" - Christmas is a federal holiday and secular in nature for a good portion of our population. Rosh Hashanah isn't celebrated secularly and it isn't a federal holiday so schools should not be closing for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

To 10:28 a.m.
Well, if you don't want to count Christmas, how about Good Friday? Most area public schools are closed for Good Friday. It is not a federal holiday or secular in nature.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse


Can I get the schools to close for the two most important holidays in my religious calendar, Beltaine - May 1, and Samhain - Oct. 31? That only seems fair.

Posted by: sue | September 14, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Most area public schools are closed for Good Friday."

They aren't on the west coast. Somehow the schools here have managed to figure out that public schools aren't supposed to be celebrating religious holidays (including closing for them); I'm not sure why it's so tough for the east coast to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The area where I grew up (Northern NJ) had a large Jewish population. The schools closed for the Jewish holidays because about a quarter or a third of the teachers would take the days off anyway. So it didn't make sense to be open when you were going to need that many substitutes.

Posted by: Joe | September 14, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"So it didn't make sense to be open when you were going to need that many substitutes."

This is just an excuse to violate the separation of church and state. Teachers are entitled to personal days and it shouldn't matter if 1/4-1/3 of them use them on the same day of if they space them out so there's only one teacher taking a personal day on any one day.

The public school system (a government institution) in this country is not supposed to be recognizing religious holidays. So not only does it make sense for schools to be open on religious holidays, it's the only legally sound decision.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

How is it a violation of the separation of church and state? The school wasn't advocating that students or teachers engage in religious practices associated with the holidays. It was just recognizing that the students were best served by having school open on a day when most or all of the teachers would be there rather than a day when a large number of teachers and students would not be there. And the schools were closed on Good Friday for the same reason.

Posted by: Joe | September 15, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Also, why are schools closed on the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, neither of which are federal or state holidays? It's the same reason - so many teachers and students will take the days off anyway that it doesn't make sense to be open.

Posted by: Joe | September 15, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

It is a violation of the separation of church and state to close schools SOLEY because the day is a religious holiday. Children should be given excused absences if they need to miss school on a day their religion celebrates a holiday, but it should not be school policy to close for that holiday. If they close for Jewish high holidays and Good Friday (which by the way, doesn't happen everywhere in our country), they technically should start closing for the winter solstice and Muslim holy days and every other religious holiday. Since you can't imagine that ever happening, you shouldn't think it's OK to close for Good Friday and Jewish holidays.

The day after Thanksgiving isn't a religious holiday, nor is Thanksgiving. Schools are closed that day because it doesn't make sense to give them one day off for the holiday and then go back the next day and then have the weekend. Children are given days off for vacations throughout the year - summer, winter, spring. Schools are closed on Christmas Eve because it's during winter break, not because it's Christmas Eve. The reasons schools aren't open those days have nothing to do with religion.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

One more thing - how do most Christians celebrate Good Friday? Answer: they don't really. The Christian religion doesn't dictate that Christians don't work or play on Good Friday, it doesn't dictate that they HAVE to go to church, it doesn't dictate that they do anything out of the ordinary. So why are schools closed that day? Because people have gotten used to it being the norm and think "oh yeah, it's Good Friday, so no school." They don't think about the fact that it means that they're taking educational time away from all of the non-Christian children who don't even know what Good Friday IS, much less celebrate it. And they're unnecessarily taking educational time away from Christian children who can recognize the holiday with their families in the evening as they see fit without having a day off from school.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

My schools started winter break on Christmas Eve. The reason it was part of winter break was because so many people were going to take it off anyway. Otherwise they would've started winter break on Christmas.

They are not taking any educational time away when they close on these holidays. They are rescheduling the educational time. Schools are mandated to have a certain number of teaching days (the number varies by state), so when they close for rosh hashannah or good friday or christmas eve, it just extends the school year. It's just like closing for a snow day, you make it up at the end of the year.

And I'm not saying schools should close on these days. I'm just saying if a significant number of teachers and students are going to take a day off, it only makes sense to close school rather than waste a day of education.

You even said about good firday: "And they're unnecessarily taking educational time away from Christian children who can recognize the holiday with their families in the evening as they see fit without having a day off from school." No, they are not. Being open on a day where nobody is going to day any work because 30% of the students and teachers aren't there is "unnecessarily taking educational time away" from all students. Rescheduling the day for a time when most students and teachers will be there is much more reasonable.

Posted by: Joe | September 15, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

So let's take the Jewish holidays out of the equation since Rosh Hashanah (where Jewish families abstain from work) is different from Good Friday (which is celebrated how??) I live in an area where schools have never closed for Good Friday. Not when I was a school-aged child 25-35 years ago, not now. The vast majority of students are Christian. Yet if anyone is taking their child out of school on Good Friday it's news to me - or it's so few people it's not noticable. You can't use the "but people will miss school that day anyway so we might as well close" argument in the Good Friday situation.

I can't speak for the Jewish holidays because I've not lived in an area where a high percentage of the population is Jewish. MAYBE it should be different if a high percentage of the students and teachers will miss school. But if it's just "nice" to have the day off for your religion's minor holiday and most children would go to school if it was open, then your argument doesn't hold water.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

And yes I realized later my folly of asking questions on a topic when the ideal audience would not be able to attend to it that day- but still a valid topic.

I tend to agree with Sue in that you can't pick and choose which religious holidays to teach about and which not to. Luckily, a majority of them are recognized culturally enough that it doesn't have to take away from previous test taking studies.

As far as taking time off- I think if a majority of your staff and students are going to be out, it makes sense to go ahead and close down the school for that time.

Posted by: Liz | September 17, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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