Thursday, September 22, 2005

Seven Days In October

Below is an e-mail that I sent to my boss last month:

{Name here}

Good afternoon. I was taking a look at the Jewish calendar for October and realized that many Jewish holidays would be falling out on weekdays; seven days total spaced over the course of four weeks

During past years, I was able to take off only a few days from work since many of these holidays were on weekends, but this year it appears that all seven days occur during work days. With your permission, I would like to request in advance the following days off work since these are holidays where work is prohibited according to Jewish tradition:**

Tuesday, October 4 - Rosh Hashanah
Wednesday, October 5 - Rosh Hashanah (second day)*
Thursday, October 13 - Yom Kippur
Tuesday, October 18 - Sukkot
Wednesday, October 19 - Sukkot (second day)*
Tuesday, October 25 - Shemini Atzeret
Wednesday, October 26 - Simchat Torah*

* Aside from Yom Kippur, all the above holidays are observed for two days outside of the Land of Israel. See here for an explanation:

Note: I plan to take leave-without-pay for these days once my remaining leave time is exhausted. Also, I do not plan to take leave time during November or December.

Information on each of these holidays can be found here:

Rosh Hashanah:

Yom Kippur:


Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah:

** Sources for the prohibition of work on these days can be found in the 29th chapter of the Book of Numbers. The sources for the individual days can be found below:

Rosh Hashanah:
Numbers 29:1

Yom Kippur:
Numbers 29:7

Numbers 29:12

Shemini Atzeret
Numbers 29:35

Simchat Torah
Second day of Shemini Atzeret

If you have any concerns or questions about my absence from the office on these days, please let me know. Thank you in advance for your consideration and understanding.

All the best,

{Name here}


At September 22, 2005 at 10:02:00 AM EDT, Blogger torontopearl said...

You wrote a nice letter to the boss. How did he respond -- pleasantly or just matter-of-fact?

It gets me all twisted inside to think about the Yom Tovs and missing work -- I used to make up the time years ago with work I brought home, but then policies changed. So I either use vacation days (which will leave me with no more to the end of the year...and I SO need a couple days off, even though June was vacation for me), or I use "other days"-- these days are meant to be used for appts., family matters, sick days. We get 7 paid, 4 unpaid. I used vacation days for Yom Tov days, but didn't even note Erev Yom Tov days, and I should take them off too. When I have to give in a vacation schedule back in February, it's somewhat tough to plan till year's end, especially without a new year Jewish calendar in front of me. I marked 2 "other days" for Rosh Hashanah, but again, if my kids get sick or I get sick between now and Dec 31st, I'll need those days then.

My kids are off school all chol hamoed sukkot, and erev rosh hashanah, erev yom kippur and erev sukkot. That makes things even tougher.

For the past few days I've contemplated making changes to the Yom Tov vacation dates, and actually taking more without pay, so I will have remaining vacation to play with. It's not pleasant to have $$$ taken off a pay check, but it reduces "headaches" in other areas...

People at work don't always understand, and think "Pearl's off on vacation nice." I explain "Nice" isn't always the word; "work" for prepping for Yom Tov is a word; as is "eating, praying and family."

At September 22, 2005 at 10:27:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

My boss is a devout Christian, so there was no way he could say no. Since it was too complicated to explain everything in person, I just put it all in an e-mail so he could look through all the material before he asked me questions. Luckily, most of his questions were just questions out of curiousity. I think he respects the fact that I take religion seriously, as he does.

...and now a question for the rest of you who do not work for Jewish organizations or a frum employer, what are you going to do for these seven days?

At September 22, 2005 at 10:43:00 AM EDT, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Many of us have to write similar emails or letters. This year is pretty bad though.

I'm guessing your boss is actually interested in the reasoning because of his own faith. Most would be ok with simply a list of dates without explanation.

I probably would have left out the part about 2 days in the diaspora. That's a bit much. But again, if that's just something he's interested in, it's fine.

At September 22, 2005 at 10:49:00 AM EDT, Blogger Shoshana said...

I have to miss 9-10 work days in October, meaning fully half of the month, and the entire month of school, due to the fact that I want to travel in order to see friends during the holidays. Thank G-d, my boss was cool about it. But I feel pressure...

Your e-mail was great - so informative. I am sure your boss appreciated it.

At September 22, 2005 at 10:52:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

PT: Thanks for your thoughts on this. I left the second day part in because I knew 100% he would ask if I didn't address it.

Shoshana: It is nice to know that someone else out there is in a similar situation.

At September 22, 2005 at 12:26:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yet another reason to move to Israel. (and you don't lose vacation days for the chagim...chol hamoed are half days)

At September 22, 2005 at 12:35:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Jameel: Very true. That is what the rabbis say every year when congregants complain about two day yom tov.

At September 22, 2005 at 12:45:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vey well done! Did your boss actually check the links out? And if so, how did your boss feel about the send day in the Diaspora?

At September 22, 2005 at 12:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(That should read "second day")

At September 22, 2005 at 12:51:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

He didn't have a problem with it. He even asked me some question about the Jewish calendar and I sent him more material.

At September 22, 2005 at 1:01:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank G-d you have a decent boss!
It's hard to imagine the days - not all that long ago - when people couldn't even get Shabbos off. My friend's father would spend the beginning of every week looking for a new job...

At September 22, 2005 at 5:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger Anshel's Wife said...

What a great letter. In my experience, most non-Jews are happy to learn all the reasons and meanings for what we Jews do.

I also had to send a similar note to my teammates. No one said a word. They just accept that I need those days off. (They also know that it's not a vacation vacation, so no envy)

My boss has been great. She said we will sit down next week and go over all my work and figure out how to handle my absence since my kids will not be in school during all of Succos. My husband and I will just have to work split shifts or something like that.

At September 22, 2005 at 6:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Chabakuk Elisha: I agree. We have it MUCH easier than previous generations.

Yetta: Thanks! Good luck to you as well dealing with these days.

Mirty: I am glad my letter was helpful to you. Please use whatever you need!

At September 23, 2005 at 1:23:00 PM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I have a friend who works for the City of New York who just uses all his vacation pay for Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed. Can you manage that without needing to be excused?

At September 23, 2005 at 1:25:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Hirshel: I only have 4 days leave left for the year. This means that I have to take 3 days as leave-without-pay.

At September 23, 2005 at 6:57:00 PM EDT, Blogger Christine said...

As an employer, my only issue with your email to your boss is the fact that you have "exhausted" your leave. I don't know how much you get but in my company, I give 17 paid days off a year. This translates to 17 days OFF a year. Any other time is considered unexcused. SInce you know well in advance what days you need off to observe the holidays, those days should be planned for. As I said, I don't know how many days off you get but nothing burns my butt more then someone taking 2 weeks vacation, 7 days of sick time and then saying they require off for religious holidays. That is what your days OFF are for! Not so you can leave me high and dry 24 days a year. That simply isn't fair to the employer.

At September 25, 2005 at 5:58:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Christine: Thank you for your perspective. I get about 12 paid days off a year.

At September 27, 2005 at 11:57:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up reform and generally don't take days off work. This year, I couldn't even if I wanted to. I'm the boss, but I also have to work a shift on the desk, and there's no one who can fill in for me.

I suppose if I was more observant I would be able to take the days off by shuffling some schedules around, but as the only Jewish person in my office, it would be a little difficult to explain.

My company is very lenient about allowing for religious observances. I've never had trouble the times I did want to take off for Jewish holidays -- I just tell my boss, and he gets it approved.

The only holiday I take off now is Passover, because that's the big family holiday for my in-laws. We're also supposed to get together for Sukkot, but I don't have enough vacation time.

Since I got married, I haven't had a real vacation to myself. Every "vacation" is to see family, which is stressful enough. If I were to take off the major holidays, I wouldn't even get a day here and there to myself.

At September 27, 2005 at 12:22:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Joshua: I am sorry to hear that you will not be able to take of the time. May Hashem bless you and your family with a sweet new year!

At September 27, 2005 at 1:00:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every January I look at my Jewish calendar and figure out when I have to take off. I use my vacation days for all Jewish holidays. I simply list the dates that I am using my vacation days, just like all the other employees do. My boss doesn't care whether I am spending all day in shul or on the beach in Hawaii. The only problem this year was I was left with very few days for an actual vacation. And we have no sick days, it's all lumped together. So if I get sick (CHVS) I will probably have to take those days unpaid.

At September 27, 2005 at 1:05:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Essie: I am going to start doing this as well. Thanks for the advice. I am happy to see that next year the only holiday in Tishrei that is on a week day is Yom Kippur.

At September 28, 2005 at 9:21:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to have been of assistance :) In life in general, I always try to offer as little personal information as possible, so why should I explain about the holidays? My boss and coworkers know that Passover generally falls in April and the High Holidays fall in Sept-Oct, so they expect that I will be taking off during those times. Exact days and reasons for each day are not neccesary.

At September 30, 2005 at 1:34:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have fluctuated in my level of observence of the Jewish Holiday throughout my life. I think I am happier when I am being observant, but the cynical part of me wonders if it is really that I am connecting more with Hashen or just showing off to others how observant I am! Something I really need to ponder another time.

But when now that I am living somewhere were there are very few Jews (Alaska), I have become fairly driven to stay connected to the community and my obervances. So, this year I made the determination early to plan for these things and take the days/time as needed. I figure if I can find the time to surf the net reading blogs, ;) then I can find the time to get my work done so no one can question me! My next goal is to pray with the intensity and spirit described in your other post.

Thank you for the ever-thought provoking blog!

At September 30, 2005 at 1:37:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Michelle: Good for you! May all of your yomim tovim up their in Alaska be meaningful. May Hashem bless you with a sweet new year!

At October 15, 2006 at 1:38:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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