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May 18, 2017 4:27 pm

Observant Jewish Culinary School Student Alleges Toronto College Refused to Accommodate Her Holiday Needs, Causing Her to Drop Out

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Humber College. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A culinary school student has alleged that Canada’s Humber College refused to accommodate her need for time off to observe major Jewish holidays.

Esther Belne told The Algemeiner on Thursday that she was a month into school at the start of this academic year when she reached out to the bakery and pastry program coordinator to arrange permission to miss classes for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In an email correspondence, the program coordinator told her, “Unfortunately, we only recognize statutory holidays which are marked in the calendar outline…your absenteeism will be considered a zero.” Belne’s father then reached out to the dean of the culinary arts program, she said, but he never heard back.

Belne left Humber in December, having failed out of the program after missing too many credit hours due to the unexcused absences for the holidays.

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She told City News Toronto that she also lost over $7,000 in tuition. When Belne enrolled in a new culinary arts program, according to the City News report, she confirmed the school’s holiday policy before handing over any money.

Humber told City News in an email that “mechanisms are in place for students who request academic accommodations due to religious observance, and we support all students in making these requests.”

Tamar Jaclyn Lyons, a student leader at Ryerson University — which, like Humber, is based in Toronto — wrote on Facebook, “There is nothing more stressful than having to miss literally half of the first semester due to religious holidays.”

“Being an observant Jew I totally resonate with Esther and support her,” Lyons added. “Humber college should refund her and be ashamed of their discriminatory actions.”

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