Hebrew University Tess Scheflan 9.12.08
A class at Hebrew University. Photo by Tess Scheflan
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When the approximately 2,500 Jewish students at UCLA start school in the fall, they won't have to worry about missing class on Rosh Hashanah if they decide to head home for the holiday.

That's because the Los Angeles university, like most University of California campuses, will be starting their fall quarter a week later than usual to avoid a conflict with the Jewish new year, the Los Angeles Times reported this week.

If the move-in days for University of California, Los Angeles, had conflicted with Rosh Hashanah, Catherine Eshaghzadeh, a first-year psychobiology student at UCLA, would probably not have moved in to her dormitory on time.

"It's a time when we become a family," Eshaghzadeh told UCLA newspaper Daily Bruin. "I don't think [the university] should make people choose."

Rosh Hashanah takes place September 25-26 this year, and classes at most University of California campuses will begin October 2.

University officials said the schedule was changed in accordance with a 2007 policy that calls for shifts in the academic calendar to avoid conflicts with Jewish holidays that could pressure Jewish students who might otherwise be celebrating them, the L.A. Times reported. It said the change came about in response to complaints from Jewish families that University of California campuses had previously  had move-in days at their dorms on the High Holidays.

As a result of the late start, students will lose a week of winter break and have a longer summer vacation. Winter break will fall between December 20 and January 4 next school year.

The change will bring California's university system closer to the Israeli academic schedule. In Israel, fall classes begin after Rosh Hashanah as well as the other Jewish fall holidays, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simhat Torah. Israeli schools would be off for the holidays in any case, but this way, students have fewer disruptions once classes begin.

UC Berkeley and UC Merced will not be affected by the shift  because they are on the semester calendar, not the quarterly calendar, the L.A. Times said. Those campuses are scheduled to begin fall classes on August 28.