Balancing work and shabbos

Jared Schreiber, Reporter

Sitting at her desk with her computer open on a Sunday morning, junior Ruth Ella Karo prepares for a long day of work ahead of her. While many students are able to balance their homework, extracurricular activities and other commitments between Saturday and Sunday, traditionally observant Jews like Karo do not have that option.

Shabbat is a day for people like Karo to disconnect. With restrictions prohibiting Jews from writing and technology, students who strictly observe Shabbat are obligated to take a day off from schoolwork.   

“[Shabbat] forces you to push off your worries to another day and just take a day to relax which is also not necessarily a bad thing given all the talk we have about mental health,” junior Tamir Krasna said. “This forces me to take a 25-hour breath before I continue working.” 

Freshman Josie Silverberg finds it to be a meaningful day where she can disconnect from technology, spend quality time with family and relax. Although work can sometimes feel stressful due to the time constraints of Shabbat, Silverberg feels that taking a break from school makes her more prepared for the upcoming week.

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that it’s been helpful not only to have where I can connect to the actual day of Shabbat but also as school has amped up and has gotten more stressful, I have found that Shabbat … is a day where I take a breath,” Silverberg said. “It ends up being crucial in my week to have that day where I’m not doing anything.” 

Karo agrees with Silverberg that Shabbat serves as her day off to recharge. However, the fact that Sunday is the only day she can complete homework has caused Karo some stress.

“[Shabbat is] nice; on the other hand, it’s a lot of anxiety since I know that I’m sitting and chilling now, but on Sunday [I’ll] literally have no time,” Karo said.

Karo spends her Sundays preparing for the SATs, doing homework and meeting up with friends as these activities cannot be accomplished on Shabbat. She is able to mostly finish it all but sometimes has to take extensions or turn in assignments late.

Krasna, who takes different courses than Karo, believes that one day is usually sufficient for him to get everything done. 

“Sometimes [I am more stressed on Sundays] especially when we’re talking about the end of semesters or end of quarters when teachers are pressed to get everything in,” Krasna said.

Silverberg agrees said that on most Shabbats she is not more stressed. However, she does believe that the school should be doing more to accommodate her.

“Teachers could move the schedule around more for Shabbat observant people because there [are] a significant number of [them] in high school and they’re [at] a significant disadvantage,” Silverberg said. “As a Jewish school, JDS should be more mindful and not assign a bulk amount of homework expecting that all students will be able to do that Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Dean of Academics Aileen Goldstein said that CESJDS policy suggests that teachers assign the equivalent of one-nights worth of homework that is expected to take students with standard time 30 minutes to complete.

 “According to the school, Shabbat is not a day for work. People might on their own choose to use it for work and that’s for each individual or family to decide, but we do not plan that it should be used as a day for work. We as an institution do not work on that day,” Goldstein said.

On the contrary, some students feel that Shabbat is less relaxing because they get assigned more homework than they have time for. 

“Assuming I don’t finish [my homework] on Friday which is also a hectic day cooking and preparing for Shabbat, [it can vary] anywhere from a minimum of two hours and to sometimes five or six hours and I’ve had a day that was nine hours of school work and prep [on Sunday], which was crazy,” Karo said.