To the Editor:
I would like to provide background information regarding Zachariah Sippy’s recent opinion piece. The Office of Religious Life creates its annual list of all religious holidays by copying a document and then sending it to the campus chaplaincies for their edits. That list is extremely comprehensive, including not only the world’s major religions but also many lesser-known traditions. Princeton University is a global community with a wide variety of religious practices, and we seek to make room for them all.
The list is contentious in many ways. It includes holidays that some practitioners are unaware of, even those within their own community, or those with which they disagree. It includes holidays observed by minority groups within religions and traditions that others may view as unserious or egregiously wrong. Like many places, the greatest disagreements about the practice of religion at Princeton are usually intra-religious rather than inter-religious; we are most passionate about those things to which we have the greatest commitment. Questions of what comprises the sacred, what comprises justice and solidarity, how to honor or challenge our histories, and how to reform and refine our present practice — the contested areas of our faiths form some of the most important questions by which religious persons live.
We will continue to ask the campus rabbis and other chaplains which of their tradition’s holidays to include in the list. It is important that they, who live and pray amongst their own community, bring their knowledge to bear on these important issues.
Guest Contributor Alison Boden is the Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel.