AOJT has made the educational and governmental establishments aware of the problems, needs and ideals of the observant Jewish personnel and students. Their religious requirements are now more courteously and seriously considered.
Our efforts have resulted in the following notable success:
Special Circulars have been issued by all Superintendents and Chancellors beginning with Dr. Bernard Donovan in 1965, urging that the schedules of observant Jewish personnel and students be adjusted when necessary so that they do not interfere with their religious observance. This has been of especial importance to teachers on late session. On September 5, 2004, Regulation of the Chancellor, C-606, issued September 2000, was reissued and on November 17, 2004 – Staff and Student Requests for Time Off for Religious Observance was printed in Principal’s Weekly. On September 20, 2005 the Regulation was updated to include allowance for travel time between employment and home when applying for time off for Religious Observance [Copies are available at the AOJT office.]
Since 1972-73, the school calendar has been designed so that the Spring Vacation included all of the Passover holiday.
In 1988-89, 1996-97, 2004-2005 and 2007-2008 when Passover and Easter were one month apart, the Department of Education calendar included all or part of Passover as a school holiday.
The current UFT contract provides for three personal business days which may be used to cover absence on religious holidays.
Evening School administrators could no longer refuse employment to observant Jewish teachers who could not be present for Friday evening sessions. From the Spring 1971 semester, until the elimination of the Evening High Schools in 2006, no Friday evening classes were scheduled in the Evening High Schools.
Examinations for licenses are no longer held on Saturdays or Jewish holidays. If they cannot be scheduled for another day, alternate days are assigned for Sabbath observers.
Although we have not yet been totally successful, fewer Department of Education conferences are held on Saturdays.
Several professional meetings and coaching courses, formerly given on Saturdays, were rescheduled for weekdays.
Numerous individual problems resulting from late session assignments, discriminatory practices in hiring and testing and interviews on Jewish holidays were resolved.
Many grievances involving other than above stated reasons were successfully resolved.
Anti-Discrimination legislation (Sabbath Observers Bill) was passed in Albany in 1968, protecting the rights of Sabbath Observers in Civil Service, in hiring and employment practices.
Kosher meals are now more readily available at teachers’ functions.
Scholarships have been established to help Jewish youth further their Jewish education and identity.
A network of Akiva Jewish Culture Clubs are operating in High Schools and Junior High Schools throughout the city.
The EFNA (Education For New Americans) Program was established to help newly arrived immigrant public school students to develop a keen appreciation for their Jewish heritage.
The Association of Orthodox Jewish Teachers in cooperation with the Department of Education of the City of New York sponsors an annual Jewish Heritage Essay Contest for all students in the New York Public School System, during Jewish Heritage Week. The purpose of the contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish customs, holidays, personalities and traditions and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture.