Speech tournament conflicts with Passover

The 2008 state tournament for the California High School Speech Association coincides with the first night of Passover. Consequently, Jewish students across the state will have to choose between observing the holiday and participating in the competition, say officials at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council.

Jackie Berman, an education specialist with the JCRC, said her organization regularly sends out multi-year calendars to schools and student organizations to avoid conflicts such as this one.

“We are sure that this conflict was inadvertent and the CHSSA did not purposefully plan its championship at a time that would exclude Jewish students and coaches,” Berman wrote in a letter to the director of the association’s advisory council. “However, this will be the result if the dates are not changed.”

The speech tournament is scheduled for April 18-20, and the first night of Passover is April 19. The Los Angeles JCRC also wrote to the association’s advisory council. Neither agency has heard an official response from the association.

Berman is worried that the Passover conflict will have repercussions beyond simply the spring tournament.

“If Jewish students know they can’t attend the championship, they may not want to participate in speech at all,” she said.