Nov 17, 2011

Working On Thanksgiving In Lakewood

New Jersey Real Time News is reporting that the township of Lakewood has requested that the drivers of the school buses work on Thanksgiving to transport the 18,000 Orthodox children to school that day despite it being a holiday and their day off.

The explanation for the need, and ergo the request, is that there are so many kids that it has become a safety issue. To compensate the drivers who would be giving up their vacation day and time spent with family, a member of the school board said he would personally pay to provide each driver with a pumpkin pie, or a different dessert.

Instead of offering a pie for dessert, he should be offering to pay them time and a half, or double overtime. If I was a bus driver in that position, I don't think I would agree to work for just a pie, but I might consider it for double overtime.

The request itself is brazen, and I think, inappropriate. How would a Jewish employee of the state, or of the city, feel about being asked to work on his holiday, on Pesach or Rosh Hashana, because they need his work to be done, even for "safety" reasons? No Orthodox Jew would agree, and most would even consider a religious discrimination lawsuit against the city for asking.

How private school systems have busing provided by the city I don't know. Regardless of that, they should let the drivers have their day off, enjoy their time with their families, and find alternatives for that one day.
UPDATE: Someone from Lakewood pointed out in the comments that the law states that as long as the private schools are in session, between September 1 and June 30, transportation must be provided and the bus drivers must drive.
The clarification is explained here:


  1. Charedim are Better Than YouNovember 17, 2011 2:10 PM

    Chilul C

  2. One of the work arounds for providing a bit of public support for private school or religious school education in NJ is the law stated that "all children attending school in NJ will be provided state funded transportation or the parents compenstated for it."

    For us personally this meant $600 per year per child in yeshiva in NJ (we were not on a bus route and far enough away to need transportation). It helped.

    Similarly the state of NJ provides textbooks to all schools of any type for State approved standard subjects (Math, Science, English).

  3. The bus drivers are either District employees or State employees. They will get double-time for working on a holiday, automatically.

    But I agree, unreasonable demand, Chilul Hashem.

  4. The comparison (bus drivers/Thanksgiving vs. OrthoJews/Chag) falls short. Working on a chag would cause a Jew to violate a religious tenet, and religious rights are protected in America. Working on Thanksgiving would engender bad feelings, which, while we try to avoid, is not a protected right. (Unless you consider it a violation of the Declaration's assertion that the Creator endowed man with the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right.)

    A more apt comparison might be asking an Orthodox Jew to work on a chol hamoed or an erev chag day that he had planned to take off. It's upsetting, he'd rather be doing other things, but it's not really a violation.

    I think that the offer of a dessert is a good idea. If they're entitled to extra pay, they'll get it anyway. Small tokens of gratitude and recognition go a long way.

    As to the chilul hashem aspect, I think that "Charidim" and Akiva are using the term too cavalierly. Jews doing something which is legitimate is not likely to be a chilul hashem. Canceling torah studies for 18,000 kids is almost definitely not a chilul hashem (remember, the request for busing came from the township as a safety issue, not the parents as a matter of convenience). In fact, I'd bet that a not-insignificant number of bus drivers will be impressed at the Jews' dedication to their studies, in that they don't even cancel for Thanksgiving!

  5. I am glad that I live here in Israel and that we don't have these issues here.

    Kol tuv,


  6. On one hand, I agree.
    On the other, here's a counterpoint:
    In this economy, these drivers probably need every cent they can get. If someone offered them good money to shlep manure into town on Thanksgiving, chances are a good number of them would take it while mumbling "It sucks to work on Thranksgiving but I have to pay my bills".
    Remember - gentiles will even work on X-mas for the right amount of overtime or if their financial state is precarious. So while the request is chutzpahdik, are the drivers likely to see it as so offensive?

  7. Garnel - thats why I said at least offer them double overtime (or maybe a bit more)... then it might be worth considering.

    I dont knoww what the law is, but maybe Yoni is right and they would get extra pay for working Thanksgiving. the article didnt say that though so i assumed not.

  8. Is it really a safety concern? Maybe if the parents there are crazy drivers. In NY there are plenty of schools that have classes on legal holidays and don't have bus service. Parents have to find a way to carpool. Is it fun? No, but we do it and I don't recall ever hearing of a safety issue. The school should have a system and parents shouldn't be animals. There really is no reason to make the drivers work.

  9. "I think that the offer of a dessert is a good idea."

    Do you recall what happened to the last person who said, "Let them eat cake"?

  10. Batsheva said...
    Is it really a safety concern? Maybe if the parents there are crazy drivers.

    Some of us regard ALL New Jersey drivers as crazy.

  11. The problem is your original post didn't give the full story. State law doesn't ask them to work it requires them to work on Thanksgiving, December 25th or any other holiday. His offer of a pumpkin pie was completely taken out of context. He is saying he personally feels bad and would give every driver a pumpkin pie at his own expense.
    For a full explanation read this post on a Lakewood website.

    Until then, kindly mind your own business before judging thousands of yidden from the other side of the world.

    A Proud Lakewooder

  12. Interesting clarification. Thank you for pointing it out.

  13. What ever happened to "We're in golus?"

    But putting that aside, are they planning on doing this for Christmas and New Year's too? This year these are on Sunday and Saturday, but what about next year? Was there any discussion about the fact that many people travel, or that yeshivos get out pretty late in the afternoon?

  14. Safety concerns might be mitigated because there is reduced commuter rush hour traffic on Thanksgiving.

    Also, I don't think the drivers are state or municipality employees - they are employees of private companies who win contracts for the bus routes.

    The drivers have pointed out that when Jewish schools are closed for Jewish holidays and related days off (chol hamoed, the week before Pesach), they do not get paid.

    The basic attitude is "we get what we want, we give you what we decide is fair". Lovely.


Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...