(New York Jewish Week) — Hunter College High School, a prestigious middle and high school in Manhattan, has added a second date for its entrance exam after a Jewish parent complained that the test was scheduled for the eve of Passover.
Hunter spokesperson Vince Dimiceli told the New York Jewish Week that he believes this is the first time the school has offered a second test date.
Hunter College High School, which runs from seventh to 12th grade, is a coveted destination for many New York City students. Because the school is run by Hunter College, an affiliate of the City University of New York, it is free to attend.
Its three-hour entrance exam is invitation-only, and is open only to students whose grades or scores on state tests in English and math exceed a high threshold. The school does not admit anyone after seventh grade, so the exam is students’ only chance to gain acceptance to Hunter.
Erica Rahavy, a Jewish parent, told the Jewish Week before the second test date was announced that her son was invited to take the exam, but was dismayed to see that it fell on April 5, the morning preceding the first Seder night of Passover. Although the test does not fall on the holiday itself, which begins at sundown, Rahavy said the school “has to understand that families travel to be with their families on the holidays.”
Hunter’s decision to add a second date to allow for Passover preparation reflects increasing sensitivity to religious observance at New York City schools, which have begun in recent years to close for a broad range of religious holidays. And it speaks to the particular sensitivities around Jewish practice in a city where Jews still make up more than 10% of the population. At the same time, the incident reflects how religious Jewish parents still contend with making sometimes difficult choices around holiday observance.
“I have no problem missing the day of school for my kids,” Rahavy said. “We’ve done that before to celebrate holidays with our families. It shouldn’t be quite so high-stakes that it’s just this one day or nothing.”
In an email sent to Hunter’s admissions office last week and obtained by the Jewish Week, Rahavy wrote that her family has plans to travel on April 5 and asked if the school offered an “alternate time for students celebrating the holiday.”
The school’s response, sent yesterday, was terse: “The Entrance Exam will only be held on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 in the morning and students have about three hours to complete the exam. HCCS is unable to administer make-up exams.”
Upon receiving Hunter’s response, Rahavy was worried that she would be forced to “decide to have my son take this exam or have a holiday with our family, which isn’t really a choice we should be asked to make.”
Soon afterward, however, the school changed its answer. As of Wednesday, a note on Hunter’s admissions website read, “An alternate test date for religious observance on Tuesday afternoon, April 4, 2023, held at Hunter College, will be made available upon request.”
A day earlier, that line had not appeared on the site. But Dimiceli told the Jewish Week, ‘[W]e always knew we would need to make accommodations. That was not reflected on the Campus School website. It is so now.”
Rahavy did not immediately respond to a request for comment about her reaction to the additional test date. But speaking to the Jewish Week before the date was added, she said accommodating a widely observed Jewish holiday in New York City felt like a clear choice.
“I can’t imagine they would have planned this out on Christmas Eve when families travel to be with each other for the holidays,” she said.
Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN
Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.
Bill Maher tells it like it is when it comes to what “the river to the sea” really means
Bill Maher cuts to the chase like no one else. Here’s a link to a segment from the most recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he exposes the total hypocrisy of the “useful idiots” everywhere chanting “from the river to the sea”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw
Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.
A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.
Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg
Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed
Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs