Monday, April 04, 2011

Kahn-ing the System

Safoorah Kahn is suing the Berkeley, Ill school board for religious discrimination. The Obama Justice Department is siding with her. Wrong call.

In August of 2008, after working as a math teacher for only none months, Ms. Kahn requested three weeks leave in December to go on the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca each Muslim is to make at least once in her life, health and finances permitting. Ms. Kahn understood her religion to mandate going as soon as one can afford, a position that no religious authority supports. She petitioned for the time off, and the school board said no. Ms. Kahn then quit her job, went on the Hajj, and upon her return sued the school board for religious discrimination.

This is bullshit. I teach, and December is crunch time. Getting a substitute teacher to cover for Ms. Kahn would have been disruptive to the students. It ruins continuity, and if she was building toward some goal at the end of the semester, her leaving would have made achieving it next to impossible.

I can understand that people want to scam the system, and how religion—any religion—can be useful when doing so. What I don’t understand is why the Justice Department is supporting Ms. Kahn against the School Board. This isn’t religious discrimination. Ms. Kahn could have saved her hajj money, and worked out a agreement with her school so that she could go on the hajj in a year or two. This would have been respectful of her religion, her job, and her students.

It is wrong for someone to take a job, and then dodge the requirements of that job and seek to avoid the consequences by hiding behind bogus claims of religious discrimination. If an observant Jew takes a job that requires working on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath), and doesn’t tell her employer before she is hired that she cannot work Saturdays, she has no right to take Saturdays off or to complain about religious discrimination. If your religion makes doing your job impossible, go find a different job.

In Buddhism there is the obligation of Right Livelihood. Buddhists are prohibited from doing jobs that cause suffering. I’m not saying that all Buddhists follow their religion, but those that do shouldn’t take jobs that violate it. We should use this as a principle for all peoples: don’t take a job you can’t or won’t do because of your religious convictions. If pharmacists can’t give birth control pills, or doctors can’t perform abortions to save the life of a mother—go teach math. I hear there is a job opening in Berkeley, Ill.


eashtov said...

Shalom Rav,

Could it be that she's actually Jewish, i.e. that she changed her name from Tzipporah Cohen? Or did many news sources get her surname wrong? Maybe Safoorah Khan instead?

Anyway, Gut gezogt.

Kol tuv and make it a good week.



בְּשֵם יְהוָֹה וְיֵשׁוּעַ וְרוחַ מִרְיָם said...

it just occurred to me that Khan (also found in the Amazon of all places: see, "The Fire Within" courtesy of Ruth Films for Amazonian-Jewish Khan) or Kahn is related to the Levitical Cohen line, d'oh (the comment at the end is the kicker, as well as the Buddhist tidbit; less interested in the political fallout). Mongolian Khans i've encountered from Guyana to Pakistan have all been relatively successful in the business sector, strangely enough. Then there's the lej, Madeline Kahn.

Mano said...

LeRav Ram haYakar

I completely agree with you and here' why: (Does poetry count as spam...when unsolicited I would say it does, in which case please delete this comment, but preferably only after you have read it)

Sulam Yaakov / Jacobs Ladder

I love to go up
but when I descend
to ensure the legs
will hold
I usually miss a couple of rungs
and come down with a bump
from which it can take
a long time to recover
by which time I'm already
wondering up again






that which you like
and that you dislike
are one


A Song of Praise - Nishmat Kol Chai

The soul of every living thing praises you, unnameable One, and awareness everywhere celebrates your being.
Always you are, from womb to tomb, from infinity to infinity, and there is no other who liberates and redeems,
enchains and sustains, saves and contains.
In moments of contraction You are thinner than a hair, and more vast than a galaxy in moments of expansion.
Nothing is except You, unconditionally and purposelessly, eternally.
Present at the first and Present at the last, you are the indweller of every form
in every generation
the mystery that is always in front of us, of itsSelf
always adored, that arranges all
with mercy and kindness
You never awake, and you never sleep
but you spin the wheel, you ARE the wheel
bringing sleep to the weary
wakefulness to the numb
speech to the dumb
silence to the busy
and let us say



Non dual prayers and blessings / tefilot and berachot

Blessed are you, O Lord, our G-d, the fountain of being, who puts us in chains and remove the chains
you give us bodies and take them away
who starves us and beats us and soothes us and feeds us
who puts us in crematoria and gives us fresh hope
who makes one man poor and onther one wealthy
who makes one woman prime minister and another a slave
(to be continued)

andrea perez said...

I am a teacher.
I couldn't imagine leaving my students for a whole month to do's like being a Hospice nurse and deciding to check out on your patients for awhile...
It's a service job. No one can replace you or do your job. It's why teacher's get such a bad rap...most people out there don't think we really like or want to do this job.
It would be like me, a nice Jewish teacher deciding that the only job I could take in the world is teaching "creationism" in a born again school and then suing the school for making me teach that or getting upset that I have off for Christmas but not Passover or that I have to work on Friday...
Really, we're wasting tax payer money on this? For shame on our government...Couldn't agree with you more

Johnny Anderson said...

It seems Ms. Kahn is abandoning her true faith and the definition of 'means'. Her requirements as a teacher, as you allude to, would demand she not deny her duty to her students.

It seems she should look up the meaning of 'jihad', search her soul, and not hide behind a semantic interpretation of what her role is, as a Muslim and a human.