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Most UC campuses change fall calendar, avoiding Jewish holidays

EducationReligion and BeliefTravelUCLARosh HashanahUC Berkeley

The fall quarter at most UC campuses will start a week later than usual and winter break will be a week shorter in the 2014-15 school year as the schools seek to avoid beginning their terms during Jewish High Holidays.

Most UC campuses will start fall classes Oct. 2 and the fall quarter will end Dec. 19, giving students two weeks of vacation before the winter quarter begins Jan. 5.

Officials said the schedule change was in line with a policy that was issued in 2007 in response to complaints from Jewish families that “move in” days at UC dorms had been held on the Jewish High Holidays. The rules call for shifts in the academic calendar to avoid pressuring Jewish students to possibly violate religious bans against working on those days.

Since administrators did not want to reduce classroom time or to change the winter and spring quarter calendars, the vacation was cut. “The only option was to shorten the winter break,” explained Brooke Converse, a UC system spokeswoman.

The move was met with mixed reaction.  Some international students recently told the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper, that the shortened vacation could make it difficult for them to travel home for the Christmas holidays. Other students said they wished they had the three weeks to decompress. Jewish students said they appreciated the change.

Rosh Hashanah, the two-day Jewish New Year festival starts at sundown on Sept. 24 this year. In contrast, the holiday started at sundown Sept. 4 last fall, as the Jewish calendar is based on a lunar system that moves against the secular calendar.  

UC Berkeley and UC Merced are on the semester calendar and will not be affected by the shift. Those campuses are scheduled to start fall classes on Aug. 28.

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