Consistently Inconsistent

Jamie Levine Daniel, Assistant Professor, SPEA IUPUI

I am an assistant professor on the tenure track. Other primary roles in my life include mom and wife.

I am Jewish, observant to a point, but also not observant. I do not eat pork, in keeping with kashrut laws, but will eat non-kosher chicken out of the house. I refuse to work on Saturdays. This is in keeping with Shabbat observance. I will drive, use electronics, and spend money, though. This is not in keeping with Shabbat observance.

This approach applies to my teaching, as well. I will not teach class on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, Kol Nidre (the evening observance preceding Yom Kippur), or on the first Passover Seder. I will teach on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, or on the seventh or eighth day of Passover. I will teach on Simchat Torah or Purim, or some of the myriad other Jewish holidays that others observe. I try not to teach on the first night of Sukkot, but have done so on occasion. So the email from our director of faculty and academic services requesting my scheduling preferences for Fall 2019 initiates an internal calculus: Jewish holidays, daycare closures, pre-scheduled travel, partner’s obligations…

Ok, Google, tell me when the Jewish holidays are. If Rosh Hashanah starts Sunday at sundown, it ends Tuesday at sundown. That means Kol Nidre starts the following Tuesday at sundown and ends Wednesday. Thursdays. Thursdays are my
preference. No, wait, that coincides with too many conference trips. What about Wednesday nights? No, I have a departmental obligation. Ok, so I can teach Monday nights, and just deal with missing one session. No, wait, I cannot, because my partner has a standing obligation.

What about Tuesdays? Let’s see. I can plan to miss for Kol Nidre. We can still go home for
Rosh Hashanah to see family, as long as I am comfortable driving back on the second day in order to make it to my class. There, that is the compromise that will allow me to observe my holiday, spend time with my family, and honor my teaching obligations.

Great, I figured out my teaching preference. Now I just have to adapt my syllabi to account for the effects of the shifting holiday dates on different units every year (thank you, lunar calendar). Wait, did I check to see when Ramadan falls this year? Am I missing other holidays my students might observe?

The only consistency in my fall course planning is the inconsistency.

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