Jewish pupils in Dublin spent last Shabbat in “quarantine” in order to take an English exam, scheduled for Saturday, the next day.
The eight Sabbath-observant teenagers, who stayed with Orthodox families in Rathgar, south Dublin, had to remain indoors from 9am on Saturday morning, when the exam started for the rest of the country, until 24 hours later when they were able to take the exam.
The decision to quarantine them followed discussions between Stratford College, Ireland’s only Jewish secondary school, and the Irish State Examination Commission.
The exam had to be re-scheduled on Thursday after teachers at a school in County Louth inadvertently distributed an English paper a day early, to students sitting a different exam.
Within hours, the contents of the exam paper had been widely spread, forcing the Irish Department of Education to re-set the exam and announce that it would be re-scheduled for Saturday.
Carl Nelkin, of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, said: “After the date for the re-scheduled exam was decided, Stratford College principal Patricia Gordon explained to the SEC that some Jewish students would not be able to sit it on religious grounds. They made alternative arrangements.”
Although only one of the quarantined students attends Stratford College, which has only 12 Jewish students at its secondary school, all eight pupils took the re-scheduled exam there.
Rabbi Zalman Lent, communal rabbi of Dublin, who housed two of the pupils, said: “I was more than happy to help. They ate with us and waited patiently until they were taken to the exam on Sunday morning.”