“So, when should we have our next test?” asked the professor. He lined up all the dates on the board and let us choose. I did a bit of rapid calculating and called out, “April 17th.” The guy behind me did his own calculations and yelled, “April 22nd.” Then the class split, some arguing for the 17th, some for the 22nd. “The 17th-the 17th-the 17th…” I pray quietly. We take a vote. Eight votes for the 17th. Twelve for the 22nd. Blast.
Sunday the 20th is the first day of Pesach. Monday the 21st is the second. So Tuesday the 22nd I am going to be utterly zonked-not the best condition for test-taking. But it gets worse, of course. Because Saturday is Shobbos, so I can’t study (it’s a mathematical class), and Friday is erev Pesach/Shobbos plus I’m in lab until a few hours before sunset, which means I have to finish all my studying by Thursday night which is-awghk-the night of bedikas chometz.
I never realized how time-consuming this Passover holiday is.
In the past, this professor dedicated the class before the test for review, and it’s an exceedingly helpful guide for studying. But I wasn’t going to have a chance to use that review session to study. I had to be practically finished studying by the time it rolled around.
It gets worse, actually. I’ll be missing a class on Monday of course, but the professor is letting me make it up by sitting in on her other class on Thursday evening. So my Thursday wasn’t going to be full of study time.
I spent a day and a half chewing my nails down. This is one of the more important classes, plus it’s my favorite one, and I really, really need and A in it. Finally I decided to approach the professor. He’s a reasonable guy, and if he was going to consider having the test on the 17th, then there shouldn’t be a problem covering the material as if it was. I hate asking people to rearrange their life because of my religious requirements, but this was a bad situation.
Besides, sometimes the payoff is worth it. Think of the five-day workweek.
So I put in my request.
“Soooo,” he puckers his brow in non-comprehension. “You can’t study on Passover?”
I was fairly well broadsided. I mean, I knew this wasn’t a city college or law school and that practicing Jews were probably rarer than Zoroastrianists, but… still.
“No,” I said, I thought rather smoothly. “No writing, no computer use-” So much for smooth. My face must have revealed my astonishment because he made a “how should I have known?” gesture, and vocalized the protest, “How should I know that?” It was a fair question. Former Illinois natives in non-medical technical vocations don’t get much opportunity to rub shoulders with religious Jews.
“I’m explaining!” I reply quickly, but didn’t really.
“Can you read your notes?”
“OK, but not in the spirit of things.”
I suppose that would have been a good time to give a general background on Jewish holidays-that they’re days of R&R and celebration and time with family and no work permitted, but I didn’t think quickly enough. I strongly suspect he did a bit of googling on the subject after I left, though. But next time I’ll be more prepared. Hey, it’s good practice for real life in a field full of ex-Illinois natives who aren’t all brushed up on their Jewish holidays.