Jewish Student Forced To Skip Graduation Due To Sabbath

After being faced with the decision to observe her religion or attend her high school graduation ceremony a Jewish teenager has decided to skip her school's commencement.

Li Morse has chosen not to attend her graduation at Mott Haven High School because the ceremony falls on a Saturday, which conflicts with the Sabbath.

Morse, 18, said she's livid that the Harlem public school wouldn't move the graduation date despite appeals over the past month from the teen, her mom and her rabbi.

"This is one of the most absurd situations in my life," said Morse, who is the only Jewish student in her graduation class.

Her mom, Rochelle Levine, said she was stunned Principal Blaine Walton wouldn't take her daughter's religion into consideration even after accommodations have been made in the past. She says classmates had made sure the senior trip didn't fall on a Jewish holiday.

Levine said school officials initially told her there weren't any other options for the graduation, scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

School officials later offered Morse an alternative by inviting her to march down the aisle of the school library by herself on Friday to receive a diploma from school Principal Walton. Levine however did not agree with the alternative and found it offensive.

"It's peculiar, and she's suffering," Levine told the New York Post. "She shouldn't have to choose between her religion and her high-school graduation."

Morse said she simply wants to graduate with friends.

"It's my high school graduation. I went through 12 years of school," said Morse, who will be studying at the College of Staten Island to become an English teacher. "It's a big life event, and I wanted to do it, and I can't."

A spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education told PIX News that Morse will receive her diploma from School Chancellor Joel Klein in a private ceremony on Thursday at DOE Headquarters.

The family said they were pleased with the compromise offered by Klein.

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