Students upset Comedy Series aligns with Passover

Student Association holds event on Jewish holiday

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Andrew Meyer has attended every Student Association Comedy Series since 2015. The event is on March 30 this year, the first night of the Jewish holiday Passover. Meyer will not be able to attend this year’s Comedy Series because he will be home on Long Island for the holiday.

Meyer and other students are upset over the date of the SA Comedy Series. SA will host two events — a 6 p.m.show and a 9 p.m. show — in the Center for the Arts. The series features comedians like Ron Funches, Alex Moffat and Anna Drezen. The event is funded by the undergraduate mandatory student activity fee, which is $104.75 per semester.

“Passover is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays. It is not fair when we are paying the mandatory student activity fee and an event is on that date,” said Meyer, a senior business administration major. “This [SA] administration ran on the promise that they are the voices of the students. They are ignoring a huge demographic.”

Passover recognizes the Exodus of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. On the first night of Passover, members of the Jewish faith have a Seder, a dinner of religious significance.

This year, Passover begins at nightfall on March 30 and ends the night of April 7.

Marc Rosenblitt, SA entertainment coordinator, said there are not many dates to choose from when planning events and he understands disappointment with the Comedy Series date.

“The reason is entirely logistical because there are 13-14 weeks in a semester and of that, maybe 10 are realistic for planning events,” Rosenblitt said. “Since I began here as a freshman in 1998, we have had events on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Good Friday, Easter, Ramadan, Diwali and the list goes on.”

Rosenblitt said he is of the Jewish faith and plans to attend Saturday morning services instead of Friday night service and a Seder.

In 2017, Spring Fest and the Comedy Series did not align with Passover, Good Friday, Easter or Ramadan. This year, the Christian holiday Good Friday aligns with the date of the Comedy Series, as well.

Jewish Student Union president Jordan Einhorn said similar concerns arose in 2016, when SA held Spring Fest on April 23, the second night of Passover.

“It was very disappointing having to miss out on the premier student event of the semester,” said Einhorn, a senior political science major said. “Forcing students to choose between a marquee event and religious or spiritual observance is frustrating. I understand it’s hard with logistics, but I’d like for SA to reach out to clubs like ours before committing to a date.”

Some Muslim students had to miss out on last year’s Fall Fest due to Eid al-Adha, a holy day in Islam, being the same day.

Mohammed Siddiqi, the Muslim Student Association president, said SA should take all religions and their observances into account.

“There’s no way to please everyone, but showing an effort to be able to do so is fundamental.” said Siddiqi, a junior psychology major.

Sasha Shapiro, a sophomore computer science major, said last year’s Comedy Series event with Trevor Noah was one of his favorite experiences so far at UB. This year, however, he can’t attend because he observes Passover and will be leading a Seder for Hillel of Buffalo.

“It seems to me that either this holiday was not considered in the scheduling of this event, or they knew about this holiday celebrated by [Jewish UB] students and decided that those students’ ability to participate in this event was not important. Both are problematic,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said he understands SA’s limited choice of dates to host events and limited artist availability, but he still thinks there is an issue with scheduling.

SA often has no other choice to schedule events on holidays, but they try to be sensitive to people’s availability, according to Rosenblitt.

“Once you subtract all of the other departments and renter holds on dates, we’re lucky to get a few weekends at all each semester,” Rosenblitt said. “This has been the case for many years and in a busy university like UB, crowded facilities are just a reality. We are hoping that some people that may go to services early on Friday could possibly make the 9 p.m.show.”

Benjamin Blanchet, Erik Tingue and Wanly Chen are features editors and can be reached at features@ubspectrum.com and @TingueErik, @Wanly_Chen & @BenjaminUBSpec.

BENJAMIN BLANCHET


Benjamin Blanchet is the senior engagement editor for The Spectrum. His words have been seen in The Buffalo News (Gusto) and The Sun newspapers of Western New York. Loves cryptoquip and double-doubles.