Will East Brunswick join these NJ districts adding an Islamic holiday to calendar?
EAST BRUNSWICK — Muslim residents have urged the township Board of Education to add the religion’s major holidays to the school calendar.
In Arabic, Eid literally means a “festival” or “feast.” There are two such major festivities in the Islamic calendar — Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
As of 2023, at least 27 public school districts in the state had Eid recognized on their calendar, according to the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Monroe Township Public Schools has also added Eid to its calendar this year, while Watchung Borough has now approved adding it to next year's calendar — bringing the count to at least 29 districts.
Muslim residents and their allies attended the East Brunswick school board meeting on Thursday and encouraged the district to join that growing list.
New Jersey recognition of Eid as a holiday
While the state does recognize Eid among a long list of religious excused absences, supporters have noted that it leaves those select students at a disadvantage.
“For too long, Muslim students have had to choose between attending class and celebrating major holidays. If they chose the latter, they risk missing exams, instruction, and are overwhelmed with make-up work upon their return to school,” according to CAIR-NJ spokeswoman Dina Sayedahmed.
Which NJ school districts recognize Eid as a holiday?
Englewood Cliffs has observed a half day off for this school year and last, according to the CAIR NJ data compiled online.
The majority of districts that have added Eid to their calendars were full days off. Those schools include:
West Windsor and Plainsboro, South Brunswick, Piscataway, Sayreville & Parlin, Edison, Monroe
Montclair, Jersey City, Paramus, Ridgewood, Leonia & Edgewater, Hackensack, Mount Olive, Clifton, Paterson, Wayne, Prospect Park, Pompton Lakes, Teaneck, Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Union, Newark, Irvington
Atlantic City, Pleasantville
“Given the growing trend of New Jersey public schools providing long-awaited and much needed accommodations for their Muslim students, we are optimistic that the East Brunswick school board will support their Muslim students and follow suit," Sayedahmed added.
When is Eid celebrated?
Eid al-Fitr comes at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan.
Eid al-Adha is the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice that comes at the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.
The timing of both is dependent on the Islamic lunar calendar, as holidays shift per the moon cycle.
This year, Ramadan falls between March and April.