U Of Penn Refuses To Reschedule Shavuos Commencement

University of Pennsylvania (By Bryan Y.W. Shin, CC BY-SA 3.0, (Wikimedia Commons)

The University of Pennsylvania announced it is not rescheduling its commencement ceremony, scheduled for one of the days of Shavuos, despite a petition requesting the change to enable Orthodox Jewish students and their relatives to participate in the event, JNS reported.

The petition to reschedule the commencement was signed by over 1,600 and alumni.

About 40 frum seniors received an email on March 24 informing them of the university’s decision not to move the ceremony, according to the university’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, claiming logistical reasons for the decision.

“The details and logistics of executing an event of this scale have been set for well over a year, and it is not feasible to move the ceremony even without other in-person school ceremonies in place,” the university stated in the email.

The university posted on its website that alternative arrangements will be offered for Orthodox students, including enabling students to attend the commencement without being required to carry or use technology; allowing the students to carry out pre-registration and COVID testing ahead of time; and having the campus Hillel facilitate “rabbinic guidance on this topic.”

The undergraduate student population at the university is about 17% Jewish.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. have been set for well over a year Given that we currently don’t have קביעות חודש על פי עדים, the college could have looked at a calendar over a year ago to know dates of שבועות.
    claiming logistical reasons for the decision Believe me, if there was another serious Corona outbreak or some earthquake or another 9/11, they would have no problem rescheduling this despite logistics.

  2. The Times They Are a-Changin – In the mid-70s, the Dean of Admissions of u of Penn, called an applicant’s Rosh Yeshiva to inquire “how he did in Talmud.” The Dean explained that “ALL applicants to U of Penn have outstanding grade-point averages (4.0 or very close to it). Determining who is accepted and who is not is not very easy. When the applicant is a student in a Yeshiva the task is made much easier. If he did well in Talmud he will certainly (kal va’chomer) do well in our program.”

    17% Jewish population, 1,600 signatures, and now they have no interest. Bob Dylan was right, “the times they are a-changin.”

  3. I don’t recall the New York Mets ever rescheduling games so frum people could attend. I’m sure this is a big bummer for many students and their families, but planning an event for tens of thousands of people is really hard, and I’m sure there were a million other logistical issues that took priority. Is this a newsworthy story?

  4. Without judging either side here, one comment:
    The date of the holiday of Shavuot is not a secret and does not come by surprise. Why did either side not realize this and solve the problem when it would have been simple?

  5. As a Penn alum I have registered my protest with the University in a manner they will understand. I will no longer be making my annual donation. This is my 45th reunion year and I shall not help our class in making our milestone year contribution to the school, either.

  6. When was this conflict first discovered and brought to the attention of the university administration?

    If I am not mistaken, the university president is Jewish.