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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oy Vey: Board of Supervisors Decides It *Will* Honor Jewish Holiday By Holding No Meeting On Day Every S.F. Jew, Rabbi Will Be At Work

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 12:01 AM

While Jews will be heading to work on Sept. 29, the Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to biddy biddy bum all day long in honor of a 'Jewish holiday'
  • While Jews will be heading to work on Sept. 29, the Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to biddy biddy bum all day long in honor of a 'Jewish holiday'

On Tuesday, we reported that members of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors were taken aback to realize their plan to honor the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, required some atoning of its own.

The Board plans to hold no meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29 out of deference to the Jewish holiday. Nice gesture, but Yom Kippur runs from Sunday to Monday nights, and even the most Orthodox of San Francisco rabbis will be hard at work on Tuesday. So, in a nutshell, the Supes, 10 of 11 of whom are not Jewish, plan to take off a "Jewish holiday" a day late at a time when most every Jew in their constituencies will be working.

Hmmm -- sounds a bit ongepotchket, no?

Several local rabbis -- who will be working that day -- expressed their surprise to SF Weekly over this plan. Bevan Dufty, the Board's sole Jew, said he was mystified, and added that he was in favor of holding a meeting. David Noyola, the legislative aid for Supervisor David Chiu, said the Board President was looking into getting a meeting organized for Sept. 29 after all.

Noyola subsequently informed SF Weekly, however, that Chiu has opted to leave well enough alone. There will be no meeting on Tuesday.

Noyola passed the shekel on this matter. He said that the current Board schedule was passed back in November of last year, and noted SF Weekly should direct questions to the 10 supervisors who unanimously voted for it back then. Those supes, of course, didn't include Chiu, and Noyola wasn't a city employee back then.

Former Board President Aaron Peskin, for his part, chalked up the weird scheduling to a "screwed-up" calendar. Perhaps -- but Board Clerk Angela Calvillo noted that the Supes often call off a meeting following a federal holiday. This, however, is not Tel Aviv -- or even Crown Heights. To call off a meeting following a holiday only a small fraction of city officials will observe is odd; to do so on a day every Jewish cop, fireman, city attorney, etc. will be expected to head into the office is odder still. As Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi told SF Weekly earlier this week even biblical precedent states one should go to work the day after Yom Kippur.   

Dufty told SF Weekly the decision to not hold a meeting left him "chagrined," and he suspected that many of his colleagues had cemented longstanding plans to hold gatherings or do other work in their districts on Sept. 29 instead of attend a Board meeting. The District 8 supe added that Board meetings these days are clocking in at barely an hour anyway.

Noyola brought up this point as well -- noting that with such short meetings it was hardly cost-effective to press staffers into throwing together an agenda.

Fair enough -- but the "We're hardly doing anything at meetings, so by doing nothing we're not changing much" argument is fodder for a whole article of its own. In any event, Mayor Gavin Newsom hands back his budget alterations next month, which should kick off a round of language and behavior that will rapidly fill up everyone's atonement tab for next year's Yom Kippur.

Oh, by the way: in 2010 Yom Kippur runs from Friday, Sept. 17 to sundown on Saturday the 18th. We'll see if the Supes have the chutzpah to cancel their Sept. 21 meeting. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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