The Jersey City Board of Education’s decision to keep the holiday Eid Al-Adha off this year’s closure list is an infringement on constitutional rights, according to a Muslim parent whose children are enrolled in the school district.
“We have a right to celebrate the same way the other religious holidays are happening and our children feel really left out,” Jessica Berrocal Abdelnabbi told Hudson County View in a sit-down interview.
Based on the resolution that was passed by Jersey City Council on September 9th, Abdelnabbi and most of the Muslim community in Jersey City was surprised by the Jersey City BOE vote.
The resolution recommended Jersey City public schools to observe various religious holidays, but during the board meeting last Thursday, Dr. Marcia Lyles stated that it was not enough time to make adjustments for the current 2015 – 2106 academic year. Eid Al-Adha starts today.
“I think the board members were not ready, I think the board members did not know until the resolution passed through Jersey City in City Hall,” Abdelnabbi said.
She also told Hudson County View that the board members were not aware of the petition and that board member Ellen Simon apologized continuously for not following up with the resolution from city hall.
“Ms. Simon was aware of it and she kept apologizing during the meeting, stating that it is her fault for not going on about the matter.”
Abdelnabbi does not consider this incident racism, but rather “it’s saying no to our human rights.”
Her plan is to remain active during the school board meetings and continue to push for Muslim holidays to become part of the academic closure list.
The Muslim parent would also like to see more parents participate in the board meetings, but expressed concerns about the language barrier between the board members and parents who does not speak fluent English.
“Make the parents understand what’s going on and what are you saying, don’t be trying to say something and trying to flip and flop and then you are going to make them understand a different way. It doesn’t work that way.”
Abdelnabbi also told Hudson County View that her inspiration for the petition and the movement is because of her daughter, an honor student, who had a difficult time catching up with school work after taking a day off from school in observance of Eid Al-Adha last year.
Editor’s Note: According to the most recent census information, there are approximately 257,000 people residing in Jersey City and about 600,000 people living in Hudson County.