Why, in this age of tolerance and religious non-discrimination, can’t people figure out how to avoid scheduling conferences on Jewish holidays?
No corporation or organization would consider scheduling a meeting or conference on Christmas, or even on July 4. And yet, I’ve missed meetings and conferences which were thoughtlessly scheduled on Jewish holidays more times than I could count.
I recognize the reality that there are just so many Jewish holidays that it’s difficult for event organizers to avoid all of them. However, that explanation begins to look suspicious when, in a year like 2006, when only six of the critical can’t-possibly-work-on-them Jewish holy days fall on week days, I’ve already been forced to miss two conferences my employer wanted me to attend, one of which was scheduled on Passover and the other on Shavuot.
A more likely explanation is simple ignorance. There is a great deal of complexity in the Jewish holidays: they fall on different days every year; they have different lengths, both between holidays and between Jewish denominations; they have different observances and restrictions; the whole concept of those “restrictions” is foreign to most non-Jews; and most secular calendars don’t accurately include all of them.
A year or so ago, when I ran into the problem of my own employer scheduling important all-company meetings on holidays, I set out to find a site on the Web to which I could refer my employer as a reference for determining which days to avoid in the future. I could not find a single suitable site. I found a few which looked like they were intended for this purpose, but all of them had errors — they over-stress the importance of some Jewish holidays, omit others, or both. I gave up and just offered to provide to my employer at the beginning of each year a list of the days that I couldn’t possibly work because of holidays.
After the two missed conferences (so far) this year, I decided that just wasn’t good enough anymore, so I decided to so something about it. The result is my Jewish Holidays and Event Scheduling page. You enter the year, and it tells you all the holidays you need to avoid when scheduling events. While it encourages you to avoid all the holidays, it concedes that this isn’t possible, so it breaks down the holidays by relative importance to give you some idea of how bad it would be to conflict with each one.
Please take a look and let me know what you think. Also, please feel free to forward the link to anyone whom you think might find it useful.