CAIR-NJ Welcomes New Jersey Public School Districts’ Trend of Adding Eid to Academic Calendars
(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 2/27/2023) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today welcomed a recent trend by New Jersey public school districts of adding Eid to the 2023-2024 academic calendar and closing schools in observance of the Muslim holiday.
Fair Lawn Board of Education is one of the newest districts to add Eid ul-Fitr to the 2023-24 academic year and close schools in observance.
The board’s unanimous decision, which was voted on February 23, comes after parents’ and students’ advocacy efforts, which recently organized under the umbrella group, Fair Lawn Muslim Community.
[NOTE: There are two major “Eid” holidays for Muslims. Eid ul-Adha (EED-UL-ADHA), commonly referred to as just “Eid,” is associated with the pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, and commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at God’s command. The holiday is celebrated with prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During Eid ul-Fitr (EED-UL-FITTER) or “feast of fast breaking” holiday at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan, Muslims offer public prayers, exchange social visits and seek to strengthen family and community bonds.]
In a statement, CAIR-NJ Outreach Coordinator Zaid Hussein said:
“We’re proud of the students and parents in Fair Lawn who’ve pushed for this accommodation, and we’re grateful to the Fair Lawn Board of Education for making this a smooth and graceful process.
“New Jersey has the largest percentage of Muslims across the U.S., at 3.5 percent, so it only makes sense that more and more public schools in New Jersey would begin closing in observance of Eid. We’re optimistic that this accommodation across New Jersey schools will inspire conversations among students and staff that can be instrumental in pushing back against anti-Muslim bigotry.
“Given the growing trend of schools closing in observance of Eid, we’re hopeful that more schools will follow Fair Lawn’s lead, and we’ve created a toolkit to help students and parents in their advocacy efforts.”
He noted that Washington, D.C., based CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.
In a statement, President of Fair Lawn Muslim Community Waseem Mohammed said:
“Closing schools for Eid is a necessary and long overdue accommodation. For the first time, our children will no longer have to choose between going to school and celebrating their holidays. With this vote, the Fair Lawn Board of Education adhered to its principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We’re grateful to the Fair Lawn board of education for listening to students and parents. We hope that this tradition of closing schools in observance of Eid can continue for years to come, and that other boards of education across the state will replicate the model of Fair Lawn.”
CAIR-NJ has tracked nearly 30 school closures for Eid ul-Fitr in 2022-2023. Nearly ten districts added school closures in observance of Eid For the 2023-2024 academic year, including Boonton, East Brunswick, Fanwood & Scotch Plains, Holmdel, Livingston, Warren, and Watchung Borough.
CAIR-NJ has also written to local municipalities in an open letter urging them to close schools in observance of Eid ul-Fitr.
SEE: CAIR-NJ Eid Map
The Open Letter states in part:
“As such, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations joins Muslim students, parents, and educators throughout the state in calling upon local municipalities to adopt Eid as a day off in the academic calendar. This is a necessary accommodation that will help ensure that Muslim students and staff do not face academic and professional disadvantages for missing school days to meet their religious obligations.
“Approximately 30 school districts throughout New Jersey closed for Eid ul-Fitr in the 2022-2023 academic year. In December 2022, Warren Township decided to close schools for Eid ul-Fitr beginning in 2023-24. A few towns over, the Watchung Borough Board of Education moved to designate Eid ul-Fitr as a Staff Professional Development Day in 2024, closing schools for students. Hillside, Mount Olive, West Windsor, and Plainsboro public schools also give students time off to observe Eid.
“Other districts, however, only offer an excused absence, leaving students in a quagmire: Should they prioritize their academic obligations over their religious duties, or vice versa?”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: CAIR-NJ Communications Manager Dina Sayedahmed, firstname.lastname@example.org, 551-221-5592