Bill Protecting Observance of Religious Holidays in Colleges Becomes Law

Lakewood -
Rabbi Avi Schnall (R) with Governor Phil Murphy. (File)

A bill aimed at protecting college students who miss class time to observe religious holidays was signed into law on Monday by Governor Phil Murphy.

Prior to the new law’s enactment, a statute existed in New Jersey forbidding institutions of higher learning from punishing students who miss exams to observe a religious holiday, but no such provision existed for class time.

Last year, after a Jewish student missed two days of class for Rosh Hashanah, she was told by her instructor that she would fail the course should any more time be missed, creating an obvious impasse for Yom Kippur and other Yamim Tovim to come.

Upon learning of the incident, Rabbi Avi Schnall, New Jersey Director of Agudath Israel contacted Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) who drafted the bill which states that an “institution [of higher education] is not permitted to impose any type of penalty on a student who is unable to attend class for reason of a religious observance.”

The legislation was passed unanimously by both the state Senate, where it was sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal, (D-Monmouth) and in the Assembly where it was sponsored by Assemblymen Schaer and Robert Karabinchak (D-Middlesex).

“New Jersey students should never be penalized for their religious beliefs,” said Rabbi Schnall.