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Rosh Hashanah and the start of the fall quarter

In the coming academic year, the start of undergraduate classes for the autumn quarter coincides with Rosh Hashanah. As the beginning of the season of High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah is an important Jewish religious observance. We understand the difficulties created by beginning classes on this day.

The University is working closely with Hillel at Stanford to provide services for Rosh Hashanah for students, staff, and faculty at Frost Amphitheater. In the coming weeks, we will provide instructors with guidelines and best practices to enable students to miss the first and second day of classes due to religious observance without being disadvantaged. This information will be posted on the Office for Religious & Spiritual Life website.

The timing and length of the quarter system sometimes cause challenges with significant events for members of the university community. In recent years, there have been conflicts between the beginning of the academic year and Jewish religious observances on campus. We realize the ongoing nature of this issue may make some who observe the Jewish holidays feel they have to choose between being part of the Stanford community and observing their own traditions. While this isn’t the intention, the impact is understood.

Looking beyond this year, university leaders are consulting with the appropriate Academic Council committees this fall to seek adjustments to the academic calendar that would avoid this type of conflict with religious observances at the start of future academic terms. Any change will ultimately require the approval of the Faculty Senate.

Just as Stanford supports its community members in their academic and professional journeys, we understand the importance of spiritual life to many in our community. So we are committed to supporting observances of Rosh Hashanah and other holy days that are meaningful to faith communities on our campus.

Persis Drell, Provost