Leach Calls Out State Senate for Holding Session on Rosh Hashanah

The budget stalemate has wreaked havoc on the legislative calendar.

As a result, the chambers were forced to move canceled August session days to September.

Those days will include September 14th and 15th which are part of the Jewish New Years’ holiday Rosh Hashanah. Apparently, no one noticed this until State Sen. Daylin Leach pointed it out earlier this week.

Leach’s tweet sparked a conversation over whether the State Senate should be in session those days or on the 23rd, which is the other seasonal Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (the House won’t be in session for any of these days).

Sen. Leach later clarified that while he is not the most religious person, others may been hampered by the schedule.

“If someone is a very religious person, they couldn’t come on a day like this,” Leach told Christian Alexandersen of the Patriot-News. “There are a number of Jewish legislators and a good number of Jewish staffers. We don’t want to put them in that position.”

Senate Republican Caucus Spokeswoman Jennifer Kochel said that no decision has been made on whether to change the calendar.

“We’re extremely respectful of the religious holiday that’s coming up,” she stated. “It’s not something that was intentional.”

19 Responses

  1. Most hilarious post in a long time was the one claiming that most public schools were closed for those holidays, and that public school teachers in Pennsylvania are underpaid, with is laughable.

  2. “I’m sure this means we’re also going to be in session on Christmas day”

    The way the budget negotiations are going, that’s entirely possible.

  3. Wait – isn’t this the same Daylin Leach that ran a blog with all sorts of disrespectful jokes aimed at ethnic minorities and women? So HE’S mad about something unintentional aimed at HIS mildly-held religious beliefs, but he’s ok with INTENTIONALLY mocking others?

  4. Now, that the scheduling conflict has been brought to the attention of the Senate leadership, let’s see what they do. No need for an explosion at this point. Postponing two days of sessions will not harm anyone.


  6. David: wrong again. Public Schools, in much of Pennsylvania are closed. Not necessarily to accomadate Jewish children, but because so many teachers are Jewish. Yes those underpaid, wonderful people who strive to teach our children to respect one another are very often Jewish.

  7. With so many ways to tell time, holidays, how many miles you have walked, there is no excuse for scheduling these days for session. Why is diversity so often scoffed at as much ado about nothing.

  8. In case anyone is unaware of it, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the two most solemn Jewish Holidays, marking the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement. One does not have to be very religious to observe them. I am not religious myself, but I observe both Holidays out of respect to my religion. It may well be that these dates were chosen by accident, but it is now incumbent on the Legislature to correct the error. As an example, Sandy Koufax, the great Dodger pitcher and a non-practicing Jew, refused to pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur out of respect to his religious heritage.

  9. It takes minimal effort to accommodate religious minorities when making a schedule, especially when there is so much time off scheduled for days that hold no particular significance for any religion. Apparently, even minimal effort is too much for some people. This is a longstanding grievance for religious minorities in this country and one that there is no excuse for.

  10. Chet-

    “Most people have the Jewish holidays marked on their calendars”

    No. Not unless the calendar came pre-printed that way. I don’t know if a majority or minority of calendars include those holidays (but I would guess a minority, as the churches tend to give out calendars to their flock).

    Here’s an online site with US Holidays:

    It lists Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and even Halloween, but not any Jewish holidays.

    The site DOES have options for various religious calendars by faith.

    Here is another basic US calendar site:

    It has Easter, Christmas, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, etc. But, not the Jewish Holidays. However, there are options to add Major Christian (Good Friday), Jewish (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur), as well as Muslim.

    So, while a lot of calendars do include the Jewish Holidays, many default and US government calendars do not. Government calendars generally have bank/postal/federal type holidays.

    The Jewish population of the US is about 2% (but many are not religious/practicing: “According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public life, 1.7% of adults in the U.S. identify Judaism as their religion”). “Approximately 25% of the Jewish American population lives in New York City.”

    The Christian population is around 70% or slightly higher.

    That’s about a 40 to 1 ratio.

    So, it’s NOT that shocking that some calendars (outside of NYC) might not show the day, nor that some people might not realize those holidays as significant enough to miss work for. In public school, the Jewish kids were excused for those days, but they didn’t close the school for everyone else.

    So, while I agree that the Senate should take the Jewish calendar into account for scheduling sessions, I don’t think it was an intentional slight, but rather an understandable oversight.

    Also, people are generally unaware of something being a holiday unless there are sales ads on TV for cars and appliances. 🙂

  11. Most people have the Jewish holidays marked on thei calendars. I have to believe the leadership knew what day it was and then when they asked some staffer if iit was significant, he punted. Really no excuse for ignorance or at least checking with a Jewish member. Leach holds the high ground here.

  12. jmarshak

    Don’t worry. Many people wind up agreeing with me eventually. It’s one of the perks of me being right so often. 🙂

  13. Leach is really coming across here as hypersensitive and whiny about something that was obviously an unintentional oversight. For once in my life I completely agree with DD. Very few people who aren’t Jewish would know anything about when the holiday falls without looking at a calendar. The error has been brought to their attention and it will surely be corrected without incident.

    Leach is the one who ends up looking dumb by approaching it this way.

  14. smarter-

    I never know when the f*ck Easter is and it’s celebrated by more people. Who still uses printed calendars, if they’ve got a smart phone? Google calendar app doesn’t even show Christmas.

    So, it’s not at all unreasonable that people would be unaware of the dates.

    However, once they’ve been made aware, they should adjust to accommodate the Jewish legislators.

  15. David, the moon and astronomy aside, Rosh Hoshanah is a major holiday celebrated by millions of people and it’s public information. It’s on claanders. It’s on most printed and electronic calendars.

    So, it is shocking to blatently disregard it. Everything that you said is completely false.

    Imagine if they held budget on Christmas Eve? It would be front-page news and CNN would be there. Rosh Hoshanah is a major Jewish Holiday, like Chanukah, and shouldn’t be so easily disrespected and disregarded.

    If that’s what Leach is saying, then he’s 100% right.

  16. Holiday’s like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. can be determined by just looking at a calendar.

    Jewish holidays and Easter are based on ancient rules about the moon and astronomy, so they require specialized/arcane knowledge to compute/determine. Greek Orthodox uses the Julian calendar for Christmas.

    So, it’s not shocking that people would be unaware of the date. I’m sure they couldn’t tell you when Easter was without a printed calendar labeling it either.

    Also, it’s not like they are going to resolve the budget on those days.

  17. Daylin should take another toke and relax. The sad fact is most people don’t know when the Jewish holidays happen (and others are confused by when they actually start and stop.) No one looked at a calendar. Not great, but not worth a fight. They’ll change it.

  18. The GOP says it’s all about religious freedom, but the only holidays they seem to know anything about are conservative Christian ones.
    Remember this when Majority Leader Jake Corman announces his run for Governor.

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