Dear Stanford community,

The diversity of our campus extends across many religious and cultural communities. All have meaningful traditions and observances, and the university wants to make sure that students, staff, and faculty have appropriate opportunities to observe holy days that are meaningful to them.

This is an ongoing process, as seen in the Faculty Senate’s decision a few weeks ago to revise the academic calendar, in order to prevent a conflict between the opening of autumn quarter and religious observances. Next year the first day of class has been moved to Tuesday, Sept. 26, to avoid a conflict with the observance of Yom Kippur. Senators also created a subcommittee that will work with the University Registrar to avoid conflicts in coming years.

Some holy days are well known, others less so, and how individuals observe varies between and among religious and cultural communities. Often, these moments of celebration, reflection, and worship require classmates and colleagues to take time away from class, study, practice, or work – sometimes for a day or two, sometimes just for an hour or so for a midday service or prayer. Some religious observances require fasting or other ritual acts that can be difficult to balance alongside class and work.

The Office for Religious & Spiritual Life maintains a calendar that includes some of the major holidays observed by the Stanford Associated Religions campus student groups. This downloadable calendar on the ORSL site provides an even more extensive list of faith groups and observances.

We hope instructors, managers, and other colleagues will find these calendars helpful in planning classroom and work schedules, and we encourage those seeking religious accommodations to advise professors and managers about upcoming observances.

The coming weeks include a number of celebrations, including Bodhi Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa at Memorial Church and other campus settings. At Stanford, we want everyone to be able take time for reflection and connection to the practices that matter most to them and their loved ones, whether in small groups or as part of broader services and celebrations.

Please contact Office for Religious & Spiritual Life staff if you would like to have more details about upcoming observances or have questions about the best ways to support other community members.

Tiffany Steinwert
Dean for Religious and Spiritual Life