High Holiday Exemption Letters

More than seven months ago, we notified the UW-Madison administration of our concern that the first day of class in September 2021 was scheduled to coincide with the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days: the yamim nora'im, or in English, the “Days of Awe." These are the holiest days in the Jewish year. 

So began Hillel’s effort with our student leaders and our partners at the Wisconsin Jewish Conference, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and the Jewish Federation of Madison, to ask UW-Madison and the UW System to change the start date and apologize to the campus community.  

With that in mind, I am pleased to share with you two emails Chancellor Blank sent out today to all UW students and faculty. In accordance with the Chancellor’s guidance, we ask faculty who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion to offer the first day of class asynchronously and ask that Deans and Department Chairs allow faculty to cancel classes if they are so inclined.  

We are most grateful to Chancellor Blank for this communication and for creating a structure to change the calendaring process in the future.  We look forward to UW-Madison being a system leader in inclusion. We appreciate the Chancellor’s support of the campus as it works to create change for the many faith communities found on campus.  


We look forward to welcoming the Chancellor Blank at Hillel for Rosh Hashanah evening services on Monday, September 6. We hope to see many of you there.  




Greg Steinberger 



  1. Click on the letter you need

  2. Print the letter at home, in your dorm, at school, or at Hillel

  3. Fill out a letter for each course you will need to be excused from with course specific information

  4. Either physically give the letter to your Professor or Course Instructor or email it to them before the day you will be missing class

  5. Enjoy your Holiday traditions and make new ones with UW Hillel!