Statement for the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays in NYC Public Schools
Greetings. It is an honor to be here this morning. My name is the Rev. Chloe Breyer. I am an Episcopal Priest here in the Diocese of New York and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York, an educational organization that works with a thousand grassroots and immigrant religious leaders from sixteen different traditions to address shared social concerns from housing to domestic violence and health.
I am here today to support the coalition for Muslim School Holidays in their effort on behalf of the estimated 100,000 —that is 1 in 8—New York City public school students and their families who are Muslim to recognize both Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha as holidays in the New York City Public School Calendar.
For over a decade we at the Interfaith Center of New York have seen how Muslim New Yorkers have worked with people of other faith traditions to strengthen our cities social fabric and public institutions—from feeding the hungry at Halal soup kitchens in the Bronx, to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness at mosques in Harlem, to working in partnership with Roman Catholics doing outreach for the Census Bureau, to serving on juries, to working as chaplains at public hospitals and with the Red Cross at Ground Zero back in 2001.
Fighting poverty, homelessness and ignorance is a big job and Muslim New Yorkers have for decades worked side-by-side with people of other faith traditions and of no faith in meeting these great challenges.
It is time that one of our great city institutions, our pubic school system—an institution made strong by a long-standing commitment to diversity—recognize in its holiday calendar one of the great world religious traditions—a tradition whose adherents developed algebra and astronomy and preserved Aristotle while Europe was in darkness. It is time that New York public schools acknowledged the contribution of Muslim New Yorkers by honoring their holy days as school holidays.