On Sept. 29 and 30, most McMaster students will be celebrating Homecoming. The university’s Jewish community, however, will be observing Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the year in the Jewish calendar.

“Jewish students – even those who are not traditionally observant – will be excluded from attending because of this scheduling conflict,” said Michal Coret, the president of McMaster Hillel, a Jewish advocacy group on campus.

This year, Laurier University’s Homecoming will also coincide with Yom Kippur. In response to the inadvertent scheduling conflict, the university’s alumni network issued a statement wherein it apologized for the situation and offered students and alumni who will be observing Yom Kippur a compensatory kosher meal.

The statement also invited these individuals to watch the Laurier football team’s workout and rundown practice, and noted that the university is working to provide them with complimentary tickets to another football game.

In the wake of our scheduling conflict, on Thursday, Sept. 7, McMaster also extended an apology.

“Steps are being taken to ensure all students have the opportunity to take part in these celebrations, while respecting the observance of Yom Kippur,” read part of the statement.

The McMaster Students Union President and McMaster Alumni Association are working with McMaster Hillel to offer support and to ask for guidance in acknowledging events in observance of Yom Kippur as part of this year’s Homecoming festivities,” read part of the university’s statement.

“Jewish students – even those who are not traditionally observant – will be excluded from attending because of this scheduling conflict,”

Michal Coret,

McMaster Hillel

Though McMaster has acknowledged the scheduling conflict, it has yet to highlight concrete ways in which it will compensate or accommodate for Jewish students who wish to both observe Yom Kippur and celebrate Homecoming.

Communicating with the university via McMaster’s Equity and Inclusion Office, the MSU and the President’s Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Community, McMaster Hillel is working to take tangible steps to remedy the situation.

“We acknowledge that this oversight was not intentional, and we hope that in the future, these issues will be resolved through open dialogue around faith-based observances,” Coret said.

“Our hope is that the university will find a way to remedy this issue, perhaps by offering Jewish students tickets to another game, so that we are not left out of a significant campus experience.”

Max Lightstone, the vice president (External) of Hillel, noted that long-term steps need to be taken in order for the university to ensure that future events are accessible to religious groups on campus.

“For starters, we’ll come up with a strategy to ensure that Homecoming does not fall on Yom Kippur at any school in the future, and maybe change the schedule so that at least one game a year is on a Sunday or a Thursday, so that Shabbat observant students have a chance to participate in a much loved university experience,” said Lightstone.

“This event will hopefully be a catalyst for more accessibility for Jewish students on campus and across the province.”

Continuing work with religious groups on campus promises to ensure future campus events remain accessible.

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