Hard Feelings over Homecoming ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

July 20, 1993

Earlier this year, the Anne Arundel County Council offended the county's Jewish community by scheduling a hearing about a controversial anti-smoking bill on the first day of Passover. The U.S. Naval Academy obviously has made a similar mistake, scheduling homecoming -- its biggest alumni weekend -- on Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the holiest Jewish holiday of the year, marked by fasting and prayers of repentance. Clearly, the occasion precludes most Jewish alumni from attending cocktail parties, parades, dances and a football game.

The scheduling blunder struck some as a deliberate insult. But it does not appear academy officials meant to offend. Like the County Council, they just didn't think. A kind of official inadvertent insensitivity toward Jewish holidays still persists. Of course, institutions and government bodies cannot possibly reconcile their schedules with the religious calendars of every minority group. But Jews constitute a fairly significant minority here. The academy should be astute enough to avoid conflicts with the High Holidays, yet Jewish alumni say the academy has scheduled Homecoming on Yom Kippur before.

lTC Homecoming can be hard to arrange, what with avoiding Annapolis' boat shows. But that's the academy's problem; it ought to have greater sensitivity toward its Jewish graduates.

PAT EMORY RETURNS: Just when we started to wonder if the Anne Arundel school system was ever going to put former Severna Park Elementary Principal Pat Emory back to work, the Board of Education did the right thing, giving her a new, low-profile job training school workers. Once charged as a drug kingpin, Mrs. Emory was cleared months ago. Yet school officials left her on paid leave, seemingly unsure what to do with her. Though she had every right to return to work, her arrest created deep divisions at Severna Park; there was good reason to believe her return would have exacerbated them. That would have been bad for the kids, and bad for her. This new job -- which Mrs. Emory sought -- lets her return to work with a minimum of controversy, and lets Severna Park Elementary put behind it an unfortunate episode.

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