The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 29 May 2004 / 9 Sivan 5764

Testing and Fasting?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Law students taking the State Bar examinations in California will not be compelled to take the test on July 27 if it interferes with their religious practice.

The date set for this examination is the Hebrew date of 9 Av when Jews fast in mourning for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. After an eight-month lobbying effort by Jewish students and organizations, the bar examination committee reversed an earlier decision and allowed observant Jews to have the same privilege as their counterparts in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Missouri of postponing the test to a more convenient date.

It all started with an appeal from test candidate Baruch Cohen who sent a letter to the state bars admissions office in which he explained the nature of the day and its restrictions on eating and washing.

"The California bar examination is challenging enough as it is," he wrote. "It must be hard to imagine what it must be like to take this grueling exam while fasting and not showering."

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